NAB arrests Captain (retd) Safdar from Islamabad airport

Maryam Nawaz leaves the airport premises alone, Safdar whisked to NAB headquarters in Islamabad

Asif Bashir Chaudhary
Azam Khan
Wadood Mushtaq

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Captain (retd) Safdar, the son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, from outside Islamabad airport, shortly after he returned from London along with his wife Maryam Nawaz late Sunday.

A six-member NAB team waited outside Rawal lounge of the airport for the arrest of Capt (retd) Safdar, as the airport authorities stopped them from entering the lounge.

Safdar's arrest came minutes after Maryam Nawaz left the airport premises alone amid cheers by scores of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers, who gathered outside the airport.

Maryam, after having left the airport, arrived at the residence of Chaudhry Muneer - her daughter's father-in-law - in Islamabad's F-6 sector, Geo News learnt.

A number of PML-N leaders including Asif Kirmani, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Marvi Memon, Maiza Hameed and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry were also present at the airport.

The PML-N activists protested against the arrest of Captain (retd) Safdar outside the airport. They chanted slogans in favour of the party leadership and kept the way for the vehicle, in which Safdar was being taken to NAB's regional office in Islamabad, blocked for quite some time.

The workers seemed adamant not to let the vehicle pass through, despite repeated calls by the party leaders present on the spot. Raged activists thumped the vehicle repeatedly, while a few also laid down before it.

They, however, backed off after PML-N leader Dr. Asif Kirmani conveyed leadership's directives to them to not block the way of NAB officials.

Confirming the arrest of Safdar, Kirmani said Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar came as per the schedule, adding that Maryam Nawaz left the airport premises, while Captain (retd) Safdar was taken into custody by NAB officials.

"He [Safdar] is in high spirits," the PML-N leader said, while speaking to Geo News. "I kept discussing Begum Kulsoom Nawaz's health with him."

He said they didn't call the workers, and the activists came to the airport out of their own will. "I tried to convince them, but we get to see some emotional scenes in such cases. However, they left the way open for NAB officials after being apprised of the leadership's directives."

Asked about their next course of action, Kirmani said they would take whatever legal way they found.

It has been learnt that Safdar will remain under custody of the NAB until he is presented before the accountability court on Monday morning.

It is pertinent to note here on October 2, Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court, while hearing corruption references against the Sharif family, had issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Safdar, Hussain Nawaz and Hasan Nawaz, and bailable warrants for Maryam.

Given the non-bailable arrest warrants, the anti-graft body had decided to arrest Safdar upon reaching Islamabad airport, according to sources. A special cell was also vacated for him at the NAB's Rawalpindi office.

He was however whisked to the NAB office in Islamabad, following his somewhat difficult arrest from outside the airport.

Maryam says will appear before court to 'try justice system'

Earlier while referring to corruption references filed against them, Maryam Nawaz said the world knows this isn't accountability, however, added that she would appear before the court to "try the justice system".

She was speaking to Geo News outside the Sharif family’s Avenfield residence in London before leaving for Heathrow airport on Sunday. 

The former first daughter said the so-called accountability process underway for the last year-and-a-half has been exposed as the world is aware now that this [corruption cases] is not for justice but for revenge.

“However, we are going back and will appear before the court and get through the wheels of justice. We respect the rule of law and the Constitution,” she said, adding that when one’s intentions are clear, he or she isn’t afraid of going anywhere.

Responding to a question, Maryam said her brothers Hussain and Hasan will present themselves before the court too but did not give a date for their appearance.

Commenting on Nawaz’s recent re-election as the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Maryam said, “it is surprising if anyone has issues with him becoming the PML-N president. God has given him a respectable position that politics revolve around him. The PML-N has a democratic right to elect as its president whoever it wants.

She added that, “God willing, the 2018 elections will be held on time and a democratic government will complete its tenure and pass on the baton to the next.”

Speaking to Geo News, Maryam’s husband, MNA Capt (retd) Safdar, said they have held legal consultations with their lawyers and everything is finalised in this regard. “We will face courts and not run away,” said the National Assembly Member from Mansehra.

The couple will take a Qatar Airways flight from London and reach Islamabad early Monday morning.

Both have been summoned, along with Nawaz Sharif and sons, by the Islamabad Accountability Court on Monday.

Maryam and Safdar face a corruption reference related to the Sharif family’s Avenfield properties in London. 

Her brothers and father, however, face a total of three cases, including the Avenfield case, filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in an accountability court.

They include the Azizia Steel Mills reference and offshore companies'.

The cases were filed after the directions of the Supreme Court in its July 28 Panama Papers case judgment.

At the last hearing on October 2, Judge Mohammad Bashir issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Safdar, Hussain and Hasan and bailable warrants for Maryam. 

Nawaz has been appearing before the court since it began its proceedings. However, at present Nawaz is in London to spend time with his wife, Kulsoom, who is undergoing treatment for lymphoma. 

It is unclear when the former premier will return. The court is yet to decide on his plea for exemption from appearance. 

The references

NAB had in total filed three references against the Sharif family and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court's orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.

The anti-graft body was given six weeks, from the date of the apex court's order, to file the reference in an accountability court while the accountability court was granted six months to wrap up the proceedings.

The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties and over a dozen offshore companies.

NAB's Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.

Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family's Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.

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.