- NAB to present Safdar in an accountability court on Monday as it arrests Sharif’s son-in-law after hours-long power show
- Thousands of PML-N workers raise pro-Safdar slogans as they pour into streets to protest party leader’s arrest
- NAB says strict action will be taken against those who hindered Safdar’s arrest
RAWALPINDI: After the hours-long drama that ensued in Rawalpindi after Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar arrived here to surrender before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-graft watchdog was finally able to arrest him from Sixth Road amid protests of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters.
After the arrest, Safdar, however, was allowed to address his supporters, who had gathered around his vehicle to protest the arrest. He will be presented before the accountability court on Monday morning after a medical checkup by doctors present at NAB’s Rawalpindi office.
NAB had obtained arrest warrants against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Safdar following an accountability court verdict that had sentenced Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar to 10, seven and one years in jail, respectively. Nawaz and Maryam are currently in London but have vowed to return to Pakistan on July 13.
However, Safdar who was in Pakistan at the time of verdict but absent from court went into hiding soon after the verdict as a NAB team geared up for his arrest on Saturday.
Come Sunday, the PML-N media cell shared an audio recording wherein the ‘former first son-in-law’ said he would surrender, but only on the directives of the party leadership. “Initially I had planned to surrender in Mansehra but will be surrendering from a different city in accordance with the party’s plan,” he said. “It is a matter of honour to present myself before the authorities. I will respect the party’s decision.”
However, NAB sources told Pakistan Today the retired captain had no option but to surrender as NAB teams were raiding his houses in Abbottabad, Mansehra and Haripur.
Shortly after the audio message, Safdar appeared in Rawalpindi where a mass gathering of the PML-N supporters led by party leaders welcomed him.
Local leaders of the PML-N were leading the party rally on Liaquat Road when Safdar disembarked from a vehicle and joined them amid cheers of supporters. As Safdar called upon PML-N leaders, Chaudhry Tanveer, Malik Abrar, Shakeel Awan, and workers to reach Liaquatbagh to show support, the gathering swelled, with hundreds of supporters pouring into the streets to show their support.
Supporters surrounding his vehicle chanted slogans of “Dekho, dekho, kon aya? Sher aya, sher aya” (look who is here, the lion is here), “Respect the vote“, and “Go on Nawaz Sharif, we are with you“.
Speaking to media person atop a double-cabin vehicle, Safdar said, “Today we [PML-N] have to decide how the country will be run. “I am surrendering myself in order to set a foundation for democracy.” He called upon the nation to support Nawaz Sharif in his fight for the rights of 220 million Pakistanis.
NAB WARNS OF LEGAL ACTION:
Not much impressed by the supporters canvassed to give Safdar a warm welcome and his tall claims of honours, NAB officials said, “If he was a law-abiding [citizen], he would have surrendered before NAB the very first day after the announcement of the judgement.” In a statement, they asked media not to broadcast his live speeches which are “against the law and code of conduct of PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority] as he was a convicted person”.
In a warning to the PML-N leaders and workers, who ‘resisted Safdar’s arrest, NAB said the bureau will start legal proceedings against all those who have provided illegal shelter to Safdar and also asked the PEMRA for provision of video footages to identify the ‘culprits’.
A notification issued by NAB later in the day confirmed that Safdar had been arrested and moved to NAB’s Rawalpindi office. He will be presented in the court tomorrow to obtain judicial remand.
The bureau further accused Safdar of amassing party workers and using hate speech to resist arrest. It also expressed amazement that how Rawalpindi Police could allow a rally when Section 144 was in place.
NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal took notice of hampering the arrest of Captain (r) Safdar and ordered an inquiry against those responsible.