Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif and his son Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Hamza Shehbaz appeared in a special court (Central-I) for their hearing in the Rs16 billion money-laundering case today.

The father-son duo was accompanied by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

Shehbaz and Hamza were set to be indicted in the case in the previous hearing on May 14 but it was delayed because the prime minister was in the UK and postponed his return to the country in order to visit the UAE to offer condolences over the death of their president.

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Once the hearing started, Judge Ijaz Hassan Awan complained that due to the security of the prime minister, others coming to the court had to suffer.

Replying to his complaint, PM Shehbaz mentioned that he has asked his security not to stop anybody. “I am appearing before the court in order to maintain its dignity and follow the laws of the country,” the premier added.

When the court asked PM Shehbaz to take the rostrum, the premier said he would have committed a crime if he hadn’t appeared in the court.

“On the orders of former prime minister Imran Khan, an investigation was conducted in Britain and I was proved innocent,” PM Shehbaz recalled, adding that he returned to Pakistan back in 2004 and wouldn’t have come back if he had black money.

When Shehbaz again took the stand, he told the court he had served as the chief minister for 10 years but had never taken a salary. “My salary would be Rs10 million but I did not take it. I also went on official tours using my own money. I used to get the government car refuelled from my own pocket.”

“I saved the nation billions of rupees.”

The premier’s counsel argued that the 14 accounts mentioned by the FIA were through banking channels. “Baseless propaganda was done in this case for 1.5 years. The suspects tolerated insults despite lack of evidence.”

“It seems the FIA is inspired by [streaming platform] Netflix. This is a film-inspired FIR,” he argued.

The FIA had in December 2021 submitted the challan against Shehbaz and Hamza to a special court for their alleged involvement in laundering an amount of Rs16bn in the sugar scam case.