ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday told an accountability court hearing the Al-Azizia corruption reference that he never admitted to owning Gulf, Al-Azizia and Dubai factories during a corruption hearing against him. Nawaz said that the Al-Azizia Steel Mills were constructed by his father and that he was not involved in any way with family businesses. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo also reiterated that he had nothing to do with any agreements done by Gulf Steel Mills. He also maintained that his National Assembly speech, made in May 2016, should be exempted under Article 66 of the constitution from being used in court as evidence. “I made the speech on the basis of some documents,” he said. In total, Nawaz recorded responses to 44 of the 141 questions posed to him. During the hearing, Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik asked the former premier if it was correct that he had held public offices. To this, Nawaz affirmed that it was indeed correct; he had served as prime minister three times, chief minister, finance minister and opposition leader. However, Nawaz further said that he did not hold any public office from 1999 to 2013, and was in exile from 2000 to 2007. Nawaz’s counsels objected to some questions listed on the questionnaire, as the former prime minister pointed out that some of the questions were based on rumours while a few others were ambiguous in nature. After submitting his answers to 44 questions listed on the questionnaire, Nawaz requested the court to allow him to answer five other questions after consultation with his lawyers. The court adjourned the hearing until Thursday (tomorrow). During a previous hearing of the reference on October 30, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Wasiq Malik had informed Judge Muhammad Arshad Malik that the watchdog had completed presenting its evidence against the accused in the reference. A total of 22 witnesses were produced before the accountability court since October last year, following Nawaz’s indictment in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference, he had told the court. The accountability court has until November 17 to wrap up the remaining two corruption references – Al-Azizia and Flagship Investments – against the Sharif family. Published in Daily Times, November 15th 2018.