Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari
Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared that his government would not offer any amnesty to politicians like ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and premier Nawaz Sharif accused in corruption cases but if they returned the "looted money" under a plea bargain, they could leave the country.

Khan also revealed that the incarcerated former prime minister Sharif's sons tried to secure the release of their father with the help of "two friendly countries."

Khan did not reveal the names of the two countries but said they just conveyed him the message but did not press for Sharif's release.

"They told me that we will not interfere," said Khan, who was accompanied by the adviser on Finance, Hafeez Sheikh, and Federal Board of Revenue Chairman, Shabbar Zaidi.

Sharif, 69, has been serving a seven-year prison term at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore since December 24, 2018 when an accountability court convicted him in one of the three corruption cases filed in the wake of the apex court's July 28, 2017 order in the Panama Papers case.

Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing and allege that the corruption cases against them were politically motivated.

In May, the apex court rejected Sharif's review petition seeking bail on medical grounds and permission to go abroad for medical treatment.

Khan said that those convicted for corruption would not be allowed to go away until they gave back the stolen money.

"They need to return the country's money first then they can go anywhere they want," he said.

"If Nawaz (Sharif) wants to go abroad for his medical treatment then he should return the looted money first and if Asif Ali Zardari has such an issue he should return the money," Khan told ARYNewsTV on Monday.

"The NRO will not be offered," he said, referring to a deal similar to the National Reconciliation Ordinance issued by former dictator Pervez Musharraf, under which cases against a large number of politicians and political workers were dropped.

"Two NROs issued by Musharraf to [PML-N's 'supreme leader'] Nawaz Sharif and [PPP Co-Chairman] Asif Ali Zardari destroyed the country. Later, both of them also gave NROs to each other," Khan said.

The prime miniser added, "Money launderers are being kept as VIPs. I have asked the law ministry to shift them to a jail where regular prisoners are kept."

"A plea bargain can be allowed and no foreign country can do anything. They (Sharif and Zardari) will have to pay the money," he said.

Former president Zardari is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for his role in three corruption cases.

He has been named in a multi-million dollar money laundering case along with his sister Faryal Talpur.

According to the NAB, the duo made transactions of Rs 150 million through alleged fake bank accounts.

Khan also spoke about the economy and said that it would improve as the difficult time was over.

Khan said his government had spent USD 10 billion on debt servicing on loans taken by the previous governments.

"A comprehensive plan is being devised including new legislation to control smuggling and money laundering," he said.