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ISLAMABAD: Federal minister and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader Daniyal Aziz has said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had become the victim of a “grave mistake”.

Speaking to the reporters in Islamabad on Saturday, Aziz said that the definition for the word ‘assets’ used by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers verdict does not exist in the Black’s Law dictionary.

“The very dictionary used to define assets [Black’s Law dictionary] does not include the term’s definition,” he said, referring to the charges against Nawaz for not disclosing assets owned by him.

Aziz insisted that receivables, if not received, cannot be classified as assets, contrary to what was decided in the July 28 ruling by the Supreme Court disqualifying former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office.

The Minister for Privatisation said the Panama Papers verdict would have an impact on Pakistan’s tax system and economy.

“The court’s decision will have an impact on the entire tax system and economy,” he said.

“The decision has changed an entire system,” he said.

Aziz, however, insisted that he could not even ‘think of disrespecting the institutions.’

“I have been awarded medals for strengthening institutions,” he said, “but as a citizen and a Member of the National Assembly (MNA), I have some rights.”

He added that he [and his party] has fought battles to strengthen the judiciary of Pakistan.

The references

The apex court, in its July 28 decision, had ordered the National Accountability Bureau to proceed with three references against members of the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the Supreme Court’s order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.

Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar’s bail in the Avenfiled properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.

Safdar was also directed to take the court’s permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.

NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.

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