Court Orders To Seize Nawaz Sharif’s Assets

On Thursday, an accountability court ordered that all of the assets of the convicted former prime minister be seized. This was announced after the Toshakhana (gift depository) case was reviewed. 

Earlier in the month of September, Nawaz Sharif had been proclaimed as an offender in the same case. The leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) along with Asif Ali Zardari, the former president, have been accused by the top anti-corruption body in the country. The authorities claim that the two men illegally retained expensive vehicles, which were gifted to them by various foreign dignitaries and states. By law, the accused were required to deposit them in the Toshakhana. 

It is not unusual for officers or heads of states, who are in constitutional positions, to exchange gifts on the eve of a visit to the state. However, gift depository or Toshakhana rules state that such gifts received belong to the state as a whole. They are property of the country unless they are openly auctioned. Rules also allow officials to keep gifts which have a market of Rs.10,000 or less. In such cases, they are not required to pay anything. 

The assets to be seized include agricultural land, which measures over 1,650 kanals, in the city of Lahore. Various luxury vehicles, foreign and domestic currency accounts in local banks, and two harvesting vehicles will also now be taken in custody by the state. 102 kanals of agricultural land in the city of Sheikhupura along with a bungalow in Murree have to be seized as well. 

Judge Asghar Ali presided over the hearing in which a record of all of Nawaz’s assets was presented. This was brought forward by the prosecutor in charge of representing the national anti-graft watch dog. 

Back in September, the court had wanted to find the details of the former prime minister’s immovable and movable properties. Directions were also issued to clarify the process and reason behind the arrest of Nawaz Sharif and his subsequent court appearance. 

The judge had already warned the party leader that if he failed to show up in court for further hearings, all of his properties will be frozen. 

In June, non-bailable arrest warrants were also issued in Nawaz Sharif’s name. A month later, the Foreign Office was given permission to execute the arrest warrants via the country’s mission in the city of London. The former prime minister had been residing in the British capital since late last year for medical treatment. 

Soon after, the PLM-N leader had filed an appeal, through his counsel, against the arrest warrants. Islamabad High Court was supposed to review his appeal but, Nawaz Sharif decided to withdraw it. 

The former prime minister left for London in November of 2019 after he secured bail for medical treatment. This was a rare occurrence. On account of his health, Nawaz Sharif bailed out for the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case along with the Al Azizia reference. 

On the 28th of July, 2017, the PML-N leader had been disqualified by the Supreme Court in the case of the Panama Papers. NAB had been ordered to filed separate cases for the offenses which were called Al Azizia, Flagships, and Avenfiled references.