ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday told National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal to present proof of money laundering allegation against him within 24 hours or tender resignation. “NAB chairman should present all evidence against me within 24 hours,” Nawaz told an emergency press conference at the Punjab House. “If you fail to present evidence, then you should publicly apologise to the nation and resign,” he demanded, while criticising NAB for holding an inquiry against him and others for allegedly laundering $4.9 billion to India.According to NAB, the World Bank’s migration and remittance book released in September 2016 carried information that foreign exchange reserves of India increased by $4.9bn after receiving the huge amount sent through money laundering, inflicting losses to Pakistan’s national kitty. While the World Bank promptly responded to the NAB move and stated the report does not include any mention of money laundering nor does it name any individuals, the State Bank of Pakistan said the estimates showed in the WB report were based on ‘assumptions’ which did not reflect the reality. “It has been proven now how the head of an institution [NAB] has made my media trial a mission,” Nawaz said. “The severity of the allegations cannot be ignored.”Stating that NAB has ‘lost all its credibility’ following ‘baseless allegations’ against him, Nawaz said, “How did this column surface again after four months?” He was referring to the media report on which the NAB took notice and launched the probe. “Did the NAB chairman ask World Bank or State Bank about these allegations?” he questioned. Further asking why the NAB chairman felt the urgency to issue a press statement late night on a ‘nameless press column’, Nawaz said the World Bank had refuted these claims two years ago. “Does NAB not know that the World Bank had issued a clarification two years ago and said there had been no money laundering? Does it not know that reputed newspapers had reported on the issue? Despite all of this, an unknown column in an unknown newspaper published four months ago was used to launch an investigation against me,” he said.The ousted prime minister said the cases being heard against him by an accountability court are also based on unverified media reports, resulting from the Panama Papers. “I have appeared approximately 70 times in the bogus accountability cases,” he said. “You shall remember that I was not named in the Panama Papers but whatever happened is in front of you.”He claimed that the joint investigation team set up by the Supreme Court could not prove corruption of even a single penny against him. “But it had been decided to oust me and so an iqama was used,” he said, adding that presenting a distorted version of World Bank report is part of the same conspiracy against him.Nawaz thanked the media which he said had conducted a ‘post-mortem’ of the issue hours after NAB ordered the inquiry against him and presented the facts.To a question regarding PML-N members defecting to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Nawaz claimed his party leaders were being coerced and threatened with corruption cases. “It is unjust to pressure our lawmakers to defect,” he said. “No matter what tactics they use, the public will stand by us.”Nawaz said some of his party’s MNAs who do not wish to leave the party had told him they were approached by people to get their loyalties changed. “These are not NAB people,” Sharif claimed, adding that people who refuse to comply are threatened with NAB cases.In reference to estranged PML-N lawmakers who had formed the Junoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM) and later merged with the PTI, Sharif said those lawmakers did not really want to join the Imran Khan-led party and suggested that they were forced into doing so.Equating horse-trading to treason, he said those involved in the practice are wrong to assume that they will never be apprehended. “Political parties who believe in democracy still exist,” asserted Nawaz.To a question, Nawaz said he fully agreed with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s speech in the National Assembly in which he stressed that NAB should sort out its matters for the future rather than digging up old cases.He said the thought hadn’t even crossed his mind that he should approach the president for clemency if he is convicted in the corruption cases. “Even if a sentence is announced against me today, I will not go to anyone to apologise or request mercy.”Asked who he was referring to when he claimed he was up against ‘khalai makhlooq’, Nawaz said the celestial species is ‘invisible’ and has been present in the country for past 70 years. “The [celestial] species is now going to have a face-off with earthly beings,” he said, adding that the latter will defeat the former.Published in Daily Times, May 11th 2018.