Maryam Nawaz says her father ‘must not’ appear before accountability court, calls it ‘a farce’
Court reissues summons to Sharif family for Sept 26 after they fail to turn up at Tuesday’s hearing
ISLAMABAD: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz said on Tuesday that her father “must not” appear before the accountability court in connection with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references filed against him and his family, dropping a strong hint that the former first family of Pakistan may not be returning to the country anytime soon to defend the charges against them.
Maryam’s statement comes as the accountability court reissued summons to the Sharif family for Sept 26, after they did not turn up at the hearing on Tuesday.
In a series of tweets, Maryam said that despite reservations, her family had appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing their offshore assets, hoping that the “judicial system will follow a legal path & will not come under pressure”.
However, she insisted that her father must not appear before the court and fall prey to “political & personal victimisation in the garb of accountability”. “It’s a FARCE,” she added.
He should not. Must not. Should not be a part of political & personal victimisation in the garb of accountability. It's a FARCE. https://t.co/InyQXrSsX7
— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) September 19, 2017
It is pertinent to mention here that Maryam is very close to her father and is being tipped as the future leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). She single-handedly ran the election campaign of her ailing mother, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, for the NA-120 by-election which the ruling party won last week.
SHARIFS REISSUED SUMMONS:
Earlier in the day, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir directed NAB officials to dispatch the summons to the Sharif family’s London address after the bureau’s prosecutor informed the court that they were not allowed entry into the family’s multiple homes and had to hand the summons to the security officers at each of the properties.
The prosecutor also said that Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, sons of the former prime minister, had directed their security staff not to receive the summons.
In response, the judge ordered the bureau official to get the summons delivered to the accused rather than having them sent to the security officers. He also ordered NAB to paste the summons outside the residences of the Sharif family in Lahore and directed the investigating officer to trace Hassan and Hussain’s London addresses.
“This is a criminal case and the security officer’s comment should have been brought on record,” said the judge. However, he turned down the prosecutor’s request of issuing arrest warrants for the accused to ensure their appearance before the court.
PML-N leader Asif Kirmani, who appeared in court on the Sharifs’ behalf, said the family could not appear as they had all left to be with Kulsoom Nawaz who is recovering from a surgery.
He added that Kulsoom was scheduled to undergo another surgery in the next couple of days, therefore an exact date for the family’s return could not be ascertained.
Sources had earlier claimed that Nawaz Sharif and his children will not appear before the accountability court and were likely to skip all the proceedings. Last month, the former first family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had chosen not to appear before NAB after they were asked to join the investigation in different cases.
“The Sharifs are anticipating the outcome of these references, therefore they have no plans to appear before the accountability courts,” the source said.
It is likely that the accountability court might issue bailable or non-bailable arrest warrants for members of the family if they do not turn up in court after receiving two summons.
Maryam Nawaz also left for London on a foreign airline flight hours after her mother won the by-poll on Sunday with over 61,000 votes.
Maryam and her husband Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar’s departure had already triggered speculation that the entire Sharif family had gathered in London and may not return to face corruption and money laundering references filed against them in the courts.
Talking to reporters outside the court, the family’s close aide Kirmani said that he had received the court’s summons in Islamabad the other day. Hence, he felt that it was a moral obligation to be present for the hearing and to apprise the judge about the Sharif family’s unavailability due to Kulsoom’s Nawaz’s illness.
Commenting on the issue, noted jurist Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed said the Sharif family’s reluctance to appear in court showed that they wanted to evade the legal process.
“Since their presence in the court may provide political legitimacy to their conviction, they want to evade the legal process. This is the best they can do,” he said, adding that the court should not fall into their trap.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said that the court should have issued warrants for the arrest of the accused.
“We hope that the court will not take a lenient approach towards them [the Sharifs] in case they fail to appear at the next hearing,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif, his sons, daughter and son-in-law had been subpoenaed in three NAB references with regard to their flats in a posh London neighbourhood, Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Flagship Company Ltd and other offshore companies.
The fourth reference was filed against Ishaq Dar under Section 14-C for possessing assets beyond the known sources of his income.
The national anti-corruption watchdog [NAB] had filed the references against the Sharif family and finance minister in compliance with the SC’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.
On July 28, the apex court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif and ordered the filing of references against him, his children and the finance minister in light of the Panama JIT report.