LAHORE: In what could set the tone for investigation into serious allegations against the Sharif family, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) summoned disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif and both his sons in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case on Friday (tomorrow).
A NAB official confirmed to Dawn on Wednesday Mr Sharif and his sons — Hussain and Hasan Nawaz — had been asked to appear before investigators in Lahore.
He said this would be the first of many cases that NAB was going to probe — an act which could have repercussions for the Sharifs’ politics as well as for the country’s political scene for long.
He said the case had been referred to the Rawalpindi NAB on Aug 11 and the decision to summon the Sharifs was taken by NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry.
Independent commentators say the probe into large-scale corruption allegations against Mr Sharif and his family could set the standard for accountability in Pakistan for all times to come.
Bureau’s team from Rawalpindi to quiz ousted premier in Lahore about Al-Azizia Steel Mills
The cases are an acid test for Mr Sharif who is fighting his case both in courts as well as before what he described as people’s jury. The top tier of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N is these days huddled in Lahore and the summons by NAB will add yet another urgent topic to its list of concerns.
There are several cases involving investigation by NAB, including the affairs of many sugar mills.
On July 28, a five judge larger bench of the Supreme Court while disqualifying Mr Sharif under Article 62(1)( f) of the Constitution had asked NAB to file four references in the Rawalpindi accountability court within six weeks on the basis of the material collected and referred to by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as well as that already available with the Federal Investigation Agency and NAB.
According to the court order, NAB has to file a reference against Mr Sharif; his children Maryam Safdar, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz; and son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar relating to four upscale flats in London.
Another reference against Mr Sharif and his sons about Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment and one regarding 16 other companies were also ordered. The companies are Flagship Investments, Hartstone Properties, Que Holdings, Quint Eaton Place 2, Quint Saloane, Quaint, Flagship Securities, Quint Gloucester Place, Quint Paddington, Flagship Developments, Alanna Services (BVI), Lankin SA (BVI), Chadron, Ansbacher, Coomber and Capital FZE (Dubai).
The fourth reference has to be filed against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for possessing assets and funds beyond his known sources of income. The official told Dawn that NAB would take up the reference against Mr Dar on Aug 23.
However, Mr Sharif had filed a review petition before the Supreme Court against his disqualification and also moved a separate application with a request to suspend the final verdict in the Panama Papers case as long as the review petition is pending.
It said that the SC directions issued to NAB to take forward the JIT’s investigation, what evidence to look into, how many references to file before which accountability court, and monitoring and supervision of the investigation and trials by an SC judge was in violation of the principle of trichotomy and Articles 25 and 175 of the Constitution, as well as due process and the right to a fair trial, as mandated by Articles 4 and 10A.
Moreover, direction to the trial court to decide the references within six months is likely to prejudice Mr Sharif’s case before the accountability court, especially when the Constitution does not confer the Supreme Court any jurisdiction to superintend and oversee the proceedings of subordinate judiciary, the petition maintained.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2017