- NAB team serves summons on former PM at Punjab House, gets assurance of Nawaz’s appearance in court
- Ousted premier advises party leaders to refrain from giving emotional reactions
ISLAMABAD: Disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said his party “will not take any dictation on the minus formula”, as he arrived in Pakistan on Thursday, less than a month after he left for London, to appear before an accountability court in connection with the corruption references filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday.
Earlier in the morning, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-786 carrying Nawaz landed at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport at around 8:20am.
A large number of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters and party leaders, including Senators Asif Kirmani and Pervaiz Rasheed and MNA Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary turned up at the airport to welcome him.
COURT SUMMONS NOT SERVED AT AIRPORT:
Although a NAB team was set to “welcome” Nawaz upon his arrival at Islamabad airport and serve court summons on the former prime minister, the task could not be accomplished at the time.
A four-member NAB team was waiting outside Rawal Lounge to serve summons on Nawaz and complete paperwork regarding surety bonds to be presented in the court on Thursday, however, the ex-prime minister departed for Punjab House in his car right after exiting the state guest house.
A few hours later, a NAB team reached Punjab House to serve the summons and complete paperwork. According to sources, PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry submitted surety bonds worth Rs1 million to secure bail for his party chief.
Chaudhry assured NAB officials that Sharif would appear before the court in the hearing scheduled for Friday.
The court had issued bailable arrest warrants for the former premier after he failed to appear before it on October 26 in references related to graft and having assets beyond his known sources of income.
‘NO DICTATION ON MINUS FORMULA’:
Addressing a closed-door meeting of senior party leaders at the Punjab House on Thursday afternoon, Nawaz said the PML-N will not take dictation on the ‘minus-one formula’.
“We didn’t choose the policy of conflict but were then dragged into a conflict. However, we will not take any dictation on the minus formula now,” he said.
The ousted premier advised his party leaders to refrain from giving emotional reactions and told them it was time to take a principled stance.
“If we stand for our principles, no one will be able to break us. The decision the party takes will have to be followed by every worker, including myself,” Nawaz said.
Speaking to the media prior to boarding his flight in London, Nawaz said that he never liked his disqualification decision by the Supreme Court but acted upon the court orders and surrendered before the law of Pakistan, without resorting to any delaying tactics or running away from the courts under any pretext.
“We have faced sham trials before… but we never ran away and faced accountability time and again,” he said. “Why should I leave the country every 10 years? What have I done?”
Sharif said he had yet to comprehend why “this whole exercise in the name of accountability” had been rolled out against him.
“The case started in the name of Panama… my name was not even [mentioned] in the Panama [papers], it’s still not there, nothing was found against me in Panama, not until today. When nothing was found in Panama against me, I was ousted using Iqama. I am shocked and saddened that this drama has been staged because it is Pakistan that has suffered and continues to suffer,” he lamented.
Sources said that some PML-N leaders during the meeting asked the elder Sharif not to use aggressive language against state institutions – military and judiciary – and rather adopt a reconciliatory path. However, Sharif refused to budge, saying that his family was facing hard times and all the party needed to stand by him as friends were tested in hard times.
Sources said that Nawaz Sharif told his advisers it was not the time for sermons, but it was time to support him since he had been punished for a crime he never committed.
Nawaz told the meeting that taking revenge in the name of accountability was unacceptable and the ongoing accountability process against him and his family was a farce.
Nawaz said that there were no corruption allegations during the four-year tenure of his government and there was no charge-sheet either. He said he was ousted from the office for not mentioning in his assets declaration the salaries he didn’t receive from his son.
He alleged that cases against him and his family were all fabricated and that the Panama Papers case verdict had become a source of embarrassment for the nation.
Despite all these reservations, Nawaz said he would appear before the courts to show his respect for the judiciary despite the ailment of his wife Begum Kulsoom who needed him by her side at the time.
Nawaz told the meeting he was not afraid of fake cases against him, adding that the party would not clash with any institution. He also expressed hope for bagging mammoth votes in the 2018 general elections.
Nawaz said he was not in confrontation with anyone but he was being confronted. “It is the time we make the real decisions,” he was quoted as having said.
The former PM went on to say that everyone would have to abide by the decisions of the party, reiterating that no dictation will be accepted regarding minus-one formula.
The ousted prime minister advised his party leaders to refrain from giving emotional reactions, adding that it was time to take a principled stand.
“If we stand for our principles, no one will be able to break us. The decision the party takes will have to be followed by every worker, including myself,” concluded the ousted premier.
Interestingly, according to sources, PML-N heavyweight and former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan left the meeting halfway without uttering a single word after Nawaz ignored his request for a separate one-on-one meeting. Before leaving, Nisar did ask about the health of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz though.