Karachi [Pakistan], April 17 (ANI): The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has granted a clean chit to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana vehicle reference, Dawn reported.

The Toshakhana is a government department tasked with storing gifts bestowed upon rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by foreign heads of state and dignitaries.

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According to NAB's allegations, then-Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani purportedly facilitated the retention of vehicles gifted to Nawaz Sharif and then-President Asif Ali Zardari by foreign states and dignitaries. This allegedly occurred through the relaxation of procedures related to gift submission to Toshakhana, aiming to confer illegal benefits to Nawaz and Zardari, as reported by Dawn.

The accused purportedly retained these vehicles "through dishonest and illegal means for their personal benefit and interest," the reference stated, allowing them to keep the vehicles by paying a nominal fee of 15 per cent of the total value.

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In June 2020, an accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif, who was abroad at the time. He challenged the warrants in the Islamabad High Court but withdrew the petition shortly after.

Subsequently, in September 2020, Nawaz Sharif was declared a proclaimed offender in the case, prompting an accountability court to initiate processes for the confiscation of his properties and directing NAB to pursue his arrest through Interpol.

However, prior to his return to Pakistan in October of the same year, an accountability court suspended the perpetual arrest warrants against Nawaz Sharif, granting him bail shortly afterward.

In November, NAB informed a Lahore accountability court that it had recorded Nawaz Sharif's statement in the reference, according to Dawn.

Today, NAB submitted a report to an Islamabad accountability court following orders to have Nawaz Sharif join the investigation. The report indicated that the vehicle in question, gifted to Nawaz by the government of Saudi Arabia in 1997, was initially submitted to Toshakhana. However, it was later included in the federal transport pool.

The report clarified that Nawaz Sharif purchased the vehicle from the federal transport pool, not Toshakhana, in 2008. Therefore, NAB concluded that the case lacked relevance to Toshakhana benefits since the vehicle was not part of Toshakhana when Nawaz acquired it.

Consequently, NAB urged the accountability court to acquit or discharge Nawaz Sharif from the reference, Dawn reported. (ANI)

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