Shehbaz Sharif, others acquitted in Ashiana-e-Iqbal reference
LAHORE: (Suno News) An accountability court in Lahore Saturday acquitted former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and nine others in the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Project reference.
Former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Khan Cheema and caretaker Minister for Privatisation Fawad Hasan Fawad were among the other accused who were acquitted in the reference.
Others who were acquitted in the reference were: Munir Zia, Imtiaz Haider, Bilal Qadwai, Sajjad Bhatta, and Shahid Mehmood.
Accountability court judge Ali Zulqarnain Awan pronounced the verdict, acquitting the accused in the reference.
“Allegations of corruption against Shehbaz Sharif, Ahad Khan Cheema, and others could not be proved,” the judge said in his statement and added that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had already given a clean chit to all the accused.
The verdict of the court read that the accused did not take any advantage in the Ashiana case, adding that the hearing on the case had been held on merit in the accountability court.
“The court did not find evidence of corruption against the accused. The accused should be acquitted,” it added.
The lawyer for Shehbaz Sharif told the court that not even a single penny from the national exchequer had been lost, adding that none of the accused had got any financial benefit.
“Two other accused, Naeem Zia Pirzada and Kamran Kayani, have already been acquitted in the case,” he further told the court and added, “The Ashiana reference was filed in 2018, and nothing was proved during the last five years.”
He maintained, “The reference was made to subject Shehbaz Sharif and Ahmed Cheema to political victimisation,” and added, “They were sent to jail in a bogus reference.”
Earlier in May this year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had cleared Shehbaz Sharif, the then-prime minister, in the Ashiana Housing scandal.
The Ashiana Housing scandal, which involved allegations of irregularities, had been a highly contentious issue.
However, NAB’s report stated that no concrete evidence of corruption or misuse of authority was found during the Bureau’s inquiry which led it to give a clean chit to Shehbaz Sharif.