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Tuesday Dec 19 2017

Nawaz slates 'dual standard' of justice, case adjourned till Jan 3

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar appeared before the accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday.

This was Nawaz Sharif’s 10th appearance before the court, which has been conducting proceedings of three references filed against the Sharif family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the light of the Supreme Court's July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

The references against the Sharif family include Al-Azizia Steel Mills, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties allegedly owned by the Sharifs.

While speaking to media outside accountability court, Nawaz lashed at the ‘dual standards’ of justice. He remarked that the same law should be there for everyone.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif while speaking to media outside accountability court on December 19, 2017. Photo: Geo News 

Upon comparison of his disqualification case with that of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan’s, he remarked: “Compare the decisions, and the duality of law would be clear.”

He explained: “Imaginary income was portrayed as my asset, whereas he [Imran Khan] has himself admitted to his assets, yet it was said he doesn’t have those assets.”

There should be same laws for everyone, he urged. “A joke is being played with the people of Pakistan. The nation cannot tolerate this joke anymore.”

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief said that he will ensure that justice is dispensed to everyone. “Without the benefit of a doubt, a sitting PM was removed. This murder of justice won’t work. We will take it to its logical conclusion.”

While referring to the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict which led to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, Capt (retd) Safdar remarked that the verdict was treated as a joke by global community.

While speaking to media after appearing before court, he said: “Politicians require votes from the nation not clean chit from courts.”

In 2013, Nawaz Sharif was elected by the people of Pakistan, Safdar remarked, adding people will again vote in favour of Nawaz in 2018. 

Court proceedings 

During the court proceedings, prosecution’s witness Yasir Bashir testified to providing NAB with details about the bank accounts of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz.

Bashir also provided the court details about various transactions that took place from the accounts of Maryam and the former prime minister. He told the court that there were no discrepancies found in Maryam's bank details and that the bank never received any complaints about her account.

However, Nawaz and Maryam’s legal counsel Khawaja Haris pointed out that Bashir had not compiled the documents presented to NAB himself. Haris added that had Bashir done so, he would have remembered the transaction amounts for both accounts by heart.

The next witness, NAB's Shakeel Anjum Nagra also recorded his statement. He accepted that he received certified copies of JIT and then submitted it to NAB.

Afaq Ahmed, a director of the Foreign Ministry, gave the court details about the letter written by former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim to the JIT chief Wajid Zia. Ahmad told the court that the Pakistan embassy received the letter on May 28; it was passed on to the JIT chief on May 30.

"The JIT summoned me through a letter written to the secretary of foreign affairs on May 31," Ahmad told the court.

The court then adjourned the hearing to January 3, the case will resume after the winter vacations. 

The former premier is accused in all three references — Al Azizia, Avenfield and Flagship Investment — whereas his daughter Maryam and Safdar are accused in only one: Avenfield (London flats).

The court has so far held 16 hearings each of Flagship Investment and their Avenfield properties references, and 20 of Al-Aziza Steel Mills. So far, ten witnesses have recorded their statement on behalf of the prosecution. The court has summoned more witnesses in the next hearing. 

Nawaz, along with daughter Maryam, left his Jati Umrah residence for Islamabad early Tuesday. The former premier and his daughter reached the capital through a special plane.

Nawaz welcomed upon arrival in Islamabad/Geo News screengrab 

It has been further learnt that Nawaz will hold consultation with members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) at the Punjab House, Islamabad.

The last hearing of the case was conducted on December 11, during which a witness recorded his statement while another was cross-examined in the corruption references against the Sharif family.

The references

The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family and another against the then-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 dozen offshore companies allegedly owned by the family.

Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar's bail in the Avenfield properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.

Safdar was also directed to take the court's permission before leaving the country from now on. The judge also provided a copy of the reference — spread over 53 volumes — to Maryam and Safdar.

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.  

NAB team tasked with collecting evidence of Sharif family properties returns from London 

The NAB team tasked with collecting evidence of properties belonging to the Sharif family returned to Pakistan from London earlier today.

Sources said the team failed to make any headway during the visit.


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