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LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his two sons will not appear before the National Acco­untability Bureau’s (NAB) Lahore office today (Friday) to join investigation into the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, say Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) insiders.

According to them, Mr Sharif — after discussing the matter with close aides and his legal team — has decided to not join the NAB investigations till the Sup­reme Court decides his review petition against the apex court’s July 28 verdict to disqualify him from office.

In a statement issued here late on Thursday night, ruling PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani said neither Nawaz Sharif nor his sons would appear before NAB in Lahore on Friday. They had not received any summons from NAB, he added.

Earlier this week, Mr Sharif had filed three petitions in the Supreme Court to review and stay further implementation of the Panama Papers case verdict which had resulted in his disqualification.

Close aide says NAB summons not yet received

“Mian Nawaz Sharif and his children have decided not to appear before NAB till a verdict on his review petition in the SC is decided. Mr Sharif has sought a stay of the NAB proceedings and till the apex court decides his petition there is no point in his joining the NAB investigation in cases against him,” a close aide to Mr Sharif, who is privy to the development, told Dawn on Thursday.

He said Mr Sharif had been advised by some of the hawks in his party to not ‘simply cooperate’ and appear before NAB, like he had done with the Joint Investigation Team constituted by the SC in the Panama Papers case. “It is time to show some defiance,” he said.

Mr Sharif already cast doubts on the NAB investigation, saying it was unprecedented for a Supreme Court judge to supervise NAB proceedings against him to get, what he termed was, a “desired result”.

The PML-N leader said many party members beli­eved that Mr Sharif and his family members should boycott the NAB investigations in the current situation.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid, a close aide to Mr Sharif, told Dawn that the former premier and his sons had not yet received the NAB summons.

“Mian sahib will decide whether or not to appear before NAB after receiving the summons,” Mr Rashid said.

A NAB official told Dawn that the bureau would issue a second summons if Mr Sharif and his sons — Hussain and Hasan — failed to appear before the team from NAB’s Rawalpindi office in Lahore on Friday.

“We will issue summons to Nawaz Sharif and his two sons after two weeks if they do not join the NAB investigation on the first summons on Friday. The third and final summons will be issued next month,” he said, adding that if a suspect didn’t join NAB’s investigation even after being served a third summons, on the pretext of “not receiving” summons, then the relevant DPO would be asked to ensure delivery of the summons.

Former NAB director and analyst retired brigadier Farooq Hameed told Dawn that the ex-premier would try to buy time to appear before NAB.

“Delaying tactics will be used to provide relief to the Sharif family. Since NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhry was selected by Nawaz Sharif, he will make sure that ‘weak’ references are prepared against the Sharif family to provide it relief,” he said.

Brig Hameed further said that if Mr Chaudhry was sincere about conducting an impartial investigation against the Sharif family, he should write to the British government right away asking them to freeze the assets and accounts of the Sharif family, in the wake of the SC verdict in the Panama Papers case. He added that Mr Chaudhry was retiring in the first week of October, and then at least two months would be wasted before a new NAB chief was appointed.

The references against Mr Sharif and his sons regarding the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and the Hill Metal Establishment and one regarding 16 other companies had been ordered by the apex court. 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).

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017