Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday evening revealed that the sons of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had approached two countries with a request to intervene and facilitate their father, who is currently incarcerated after being found guilty in a corruption case.
He said the two countries, which he did not name, conveyed the message but refused to intervene. “They told me that we will not interfere,” he said.
The prime minister, along with Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Hafeez Sheikh and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi, made the remarks while addressing a panel of anchorpersons and senior journalists. The discussion was aired by ARYNewsTV on Monday evening.
“The NRO will not be offered,” he said, referring to a deal similar to the national reconciliation ordinance issued by former dictator Pervez Musharraf, under which cases against a large number of politicians and political workers were quashed.
“Two NROs issued by Musharraf to [PML-N’s ‘supreme leader’] Nawaz Sharif and [PPP Co-Chairman] Asif Ali Zardari destroyed the country… Later, both of them also gave NROs to each other,” he said.
The only way forward, he said, is a plea bargain. “A Plea bargain can be allowed and no foreign country can do anything in this regard. They [Sharif and Zardari] will have to pay the money,” he said.
“Give the money and go out of the country,” he said, adding that Nawaz Sharif wants to seek treatment from a foreign country and he will be allowed to do so, but after he settles with the government.
He added that Asif Zardari is “facing difficulties; he will also be let go if he pays the money”.
Further talking about facing pressure to provide some relief to the two leaders, he said: “This is the first setup where the Army is standing by the government’s agenda and manifesto. No one can escape from any quarter. No intercession is going to work in this regard.”
He also warned that those politicians who had been arrested or convicted under money laundering charges would not be able to avail higher classes in jail.
“I have told the law ministry that the money launderers should be sent to a common jail. Soon, legislation will be made in this regard. They [money launderers] should know how a common criminal is treated in this country,” he warned.
‘PTI govt paid back $10bn’
The prime minister, while talking about the state of the economy, claimed that the PTI-led government had spent $10 billion on debt servicing on loans taken by previous governments.
He said the incumbent government inherited a record current account deficit of over $19bn, which increased the pressure on the rupee.
Talking about steps being taken to address the issue, he said that a comprehensive plan is being devised to control smuggling and money laundering, for which new legislation will be brought in.
Asked about the higher tax target for next year, he said that the target will be achieved with the help of tax reforms and by expanding the tax base and net. He again regretted that half of the country’s tax collection is being spent on debt servicing.
The prime minister was also hopeful that the situation on the economic front will normalise after the next meeting between the government and the International Monetary Fund.