Monday Oct 09 2017

Maryam, Safdar to appear before accountability court today

ISLAMABAD: Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Nawaz Sharif, and her husband, Captain (retd) Safdar, will appear before an accountability court on Monday (today) where they are expected to be provided copies of references filed against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The accountability court, hearing corruption cases against the Sharif family, is also likely to fix a date for indicting the accused. It has been learnt that around 1000 police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel will be deployed for security during the hearing.

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.

NAB arrests Captain (retd) Safdar

NAB officials 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.

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

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.

Following Nawaz's appearance before the court on Oct 2, Mohsin Ranjha, a member of his legal team, briefed the media. He said the former premier's indictment had been deferred to October 9, the next date of hearing.

He added that the court has been assured that Maryam and her husband will appear before it.

Earlier in the day, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar left for Pakistan to appear before the accountability court. Both have been summoned, along with Nawaz Sharif and sons, by the Islamabad Accountability Court on Monday.

Speaking to Geo News outside the Sharif family’s Avenfield residence before leaving for Heathrow airport, Maryam said the so-called accountability process under way 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.

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

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.

The other two references against them involve Azizia Steel Mills and offshore companies.

The references

The NAB has 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, their London properties and over dozen offshore companies.

NAB's Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal 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.