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Tuesday Feb 13 2018

Lodhran victory a public response to these cases, says Nawaz after corruption hearing

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Tuesday that Monday's by-poll victory in Lodhran is "the public's response to these cases," adding that the "people of Pakistan are fighting my case. I salute them."

According to unofficial results, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) Iqbal Shah received 113,542 votes, while his competitor, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Ali Tareen, contesting his first election on his father’s seat, got 85,933 votes.

Nawaz was addressing the media after appearing before the accountability court hearing three National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references against him, daughter Maryam and son-in-law MNA Capt (retd) Safdar. 

The references pertain to the Al-Azizia Steel Mills, offshore companies including Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London. While Nawaz is accused in all three cases, Maryam and Safdar are named in the Avenfield reference only. 

Talking to the media, Nawaz said he wonders how long such "supplementary references" will continue to be submitted. He was referring to the additional reference filed by NAB in the Avenfiled case and the expected filing of similar supplementary references in the other two cases. 

"There’s nothing in them. They are the same references that have been re-packaged. Had there been any substantial truth and evidence in the original reference there’d be no need for additional references," said Nawaz. 

Terming the ongoing cases against him 'victimsation in the name of accountability', the three-time prime minister said "‘they’ want Nawaz punished one way or the other. But I’m happy the people of Pakistan are with us as seen in the [Lodhran] by-election result". 

Policemen deployed at the court today - Geo News

I'm not scared: Nawaz

Turning his guns on former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Nawaz said, "I’m not scared. I’m facing this ‘accountability’. But 'they' should also go after him who was facing a treason case, imposed martial law twice and arrested judges. But he's not facing any contempt, no punishment, no fingers raised against him. But us, who served Pakistan in various fields, are facing the brunt. How long will these double standards continue."  

When asked to respond to disgruntled party leader Chaudhry Nisar’s recent outburst against on Maryam and Nawaz's aide Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Nawaz chose to dodge the query. 

He then departed the court and returned to Punjab House, where held a high-level party meeting attended by senior government officials and PML-N figures.  

Nawaz chairing the party meeting at Punjab House today. Photo: Geo News

Hearing adjourned due to lawyers' strike 

Earlier today, Nawaz, accompanied by his daughter Maryam, reached the court from Punjab House. Safdar had already reached the Federal Judicial Complex where the court is located. 

A number of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, workers and government figures were present at the court to welcome the PML-N chief. 

As proceedings began, Judge Mohammad Bashir inquired if the summoned witnesses are present in court today to record their statement, to which NAB's Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi replied in the affirmative. 

However, the hearing could not take place owing to the lawyers' boycott of courts over the death of noted lawyer Asma Jahangir, who passed away due to a stroke in Lahore on Sunday.  

The prosecution expressed displeasure at the adjournment, saying the witnesses and prosecution suffer owing to adjournments. 

During the hearing, the judge admonished the prosecution for failing to present supplementary references in the Al Azizia and Flagship cases. It then issued a notice to NAB's Rawalpindi director general to furnish an explanation as to why the supplementary references have not been filed so far. 

The hearing was adjourned until February 15. 

At the last hearing of the case on February 6, Mohammad Abdul Wahid, a director general at the federal information ministry, had recorded his statement in court. 

Moreover, on February 8, the Islamabad High Court dismissed Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar's plea to nullify the accountability court's order allowing the recording of statements of two witnesses via video link from UK in the Avenfield case.

The witnesses have been added in the supplementary reference in the Avenfield case filed by NAB recently. 

On Feb 10, Nawaz failed to appear before the NAB's Rawalpindi office to record his statement in the supplementary references in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investments Ltd cases. 

According to sources, NAB Rawalpindi is preparing supplementary references in the two cases against the Sharifs. 

Nawaz's sons Hussain and Hasan are also wanted in all three references but have been declared proclaimed offenders owing to their continuous no-show.