‘Beginning of a new Pakistan’, says Imran Khan

Swat [Pakistan]: Hours after the accountability court pronounced the Avenfield reference case verdict, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said that “it is the beginning of a new Pakistan.”

Addressing a rally in Swat as part of his party’s electoral campaign, Khan opined that it was the first time in the country’s history that “the powerful are being held accountable for the first time.”

“Nobody would take me seriously when I used to say that they [Sharifs and Zardari] have bought properties abroad. I thank God today because the struggle that I began 22 years ago [has now borne fruit],” Khan was quoted by The Dawn, as saying.

He claimed that if former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was sent to jail earlier, the country’s institutions would have functioned normally and smoothly, Geo TV reported.

The former cricketer-turned-politician added that Sharif’s sons had accepted that they owned Avenfield properties in London on television.

Launching a scathing attack on Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chief and former president Asif Ali Zardari, Khan alleged that the two destroyed state institutions, and appealed to the public to root out corruption from Pakistan.

He lamented that while fighting against “massive corruption” of the Sharif family, several cases were registered against him in a bid to stall his struggle.

Meanwhile, PTI president Dr. Arif Alvi said that “justice was served to the people of Pakistan.”

“Justice has been served to the people of Pakistan. A warning to all those who looted and plundered and to those who are in politics to stay away from corruption in the future. You cannot steal from the people of Pakistan and go free. Other too must be caught,” he tweeted.

Earlier in the day, Sharif was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of eight million pounds on Friday in one of three corruption cases, while his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment and a fine of two million pounds.

Maryam’s husband Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar was also sentenced to one year of imprisonment.
The verdict in the Avenfield reference case was read out by accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir after postponing the announcement four times in a day.

Explaining the delay, the judge said that an appropriate number of photocopies of the judgment was to be made to the relevant parties.

The Sharifs had filed an application on Thursday requesting the court to delay the verdict in the Avenfield reference and grant a seven-day exemption in the wake of Nawaz’s wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s critical health. But the court dismissed the plea.

Sharif and Maryam are currently in London since June 14 visiting Kulsoom, who is suffering from cancer and is undergoing treatment there.

Sharif and his family are facing trial in three corruption cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which are Avenfield properties, Gulf Steel Mills and Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

The trial had commenced on September 14 last year.