- Deposed PM says he wants to be present in courtroom when verdict is delivered
- Says he will be back as soon as wife Kulsoom regains consciousness
- Maryam Nawaz says ready to face jail for ‘sanctity of vote’
Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday requested for a delay in the announcement of the verdict in the Avenfield corruption reference that is to be announced on Friday, saying he wanted to be present in the courtroom when the verdict is delivered.
Speaking to media persons, Nawaz —who is in London with his daughter Maryam Nawaz owing to his wife Kulsoom’s ailing health— said he will return to Pakistan as soon as the condition of his wife improves, adding that he wanted to see his wife conscious before he returns to his homeland.
Pakistan has had a history of verdicts remaining “unnecessarily” reserved for months, therefore delaying the judgement in such ‘sensitive case’ would not violate any laws, he justified. “My lawyer will submit a formal application to delay the announcement of the verdict.”
The former PM, however, rejected the impression of going into self-exile, saying, he’s not a dictator that he will run away. He said he won’t disappoint his followers as he is answerable to them, adding he wouldn’t have appeared in the courts for over 100 times if he had planned on running away.
“Though I am facing one-sided investigations [since disqualification from public office in the Panama Papers case in July 2017] I won’t be silenced as the nation is standing with me,” he went on to say.
He warned ‘anti-democratic forces’, those who are contesting on the electoral symbol of Jeep, saying the masses will make an example out of them after the elections.
In a reference to the upcoming elections, the ex-PM said that the people will announce the decision bigger than all decisions on July 25.
MARYAM SAYS WILL GO TO JAIL IF SHE HAS TO:
Earlier in the day, Nawaz’s daughter Maryam told reporters outside the Harley Street Clinic that she was ready to go to jail if the verdict goes against her.
In a brief conversation, Maryam echoed her father’s stance, saying there is a price to be paid for leading the movement of “sanctity of vote” and she is ready to pay for it.
“There’s nothing to be scared of as we are leading a cause for which no one stood up in the last 70 years,” said Maryam, who is a co-accused in the reference that pertains to the upscale flats of the Sharif family in the British capital.
When asked whether she would return to the country before the elections, Maryam replied in the affirmative.
The Sharif family is facing three corruption references— Avenfield Properties, Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments—filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in which they are accused of money laundering, hiding offshore assets and tax evasion.
Besides Nawaz, Maryam and her husband are also named in the case, while, Hasan and Hussain, have been declared absconder by the court. In the light of their repeated absence, the anti-graft bureau has also decided to bring them back via Interpol.
Though the NAB has failed to build a strong against the Sharifs in the reference, the Sharifs haven’t able to ‘fully satisfy’ the investigators regarding the sources through which the London flats were bought.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.