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Sharif family to skip all accountability court proceedings

Updated September 19, 2017

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MARYAM Nawaz at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore before her departure for London on board a private airline on Monday.
MARYAM Nawaz at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore before her departure for London on board a private airline on Monday.

LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Captain Muhammad Safdar left for London on Monday, a day before they were scheduled to appear before Islamabad’s accountability court in connection with corruption references, and according to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, the family is likely to skip all the proceedings.

Mr Sharif and his sons — Hassan and Hussain — had been summoned, along with Maryam and her husband, in the accountability court on Tuesday.

A PML-N leader close to the Sharif family told Dawn on Monday, “Nawaz Sharif and his children will not appear before the accountability court and they are likely to skip all the proceedings of the accountability courts.”

Last month, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had chosen not to appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after they were asked to join the investigation in different cases.

Maryam, Safdar depart for London hours after victory in NA-120 by-poll

“The Sharifs are anticipating the outcome of these references, therefore they have no plans to appear before the accountability courts,” the PML-N leader said.

A NAB official told Dawn that the accountability court might issue bailable or non-bailable arrest warrants for members of the Sharif family if they did not turn up in court after receiving two summons. “We had exercised restraint and not issued arrest warrants for members of the Sharif family after they refused to join the investigation,” he said. NAB usually issues arrest orders for suspects, even in “petty white-collar crime cases”, but NAB chief Qamar Zaman Chaudhry appears to be soft on the Sharifs.

Counsel for the Sharifs Advocate Amjad Pervez did not confirm whether his clients had told him to appear before the accountability court or not.

“There has been no consultation on their or my appearance before the accountability court,” Advocate Pervez told Dawn.

Maryam, who had led the NA-120 by-election campaign on behalf of her mother Kulsoom Nawaz for over a month, left for London on a foreign airline flight hours after her mother won the by-poll with over 61,000 votes.

Maryam and retired Capt Muhammad Safdar’s departure has triggered speculation now that the entire Sharif family has gathered in London and may not return to face corruption and money laundering references filed against them in the accountability courts.

Saad’s advice to Maryam

A day after Maryam snubbed Railways Minister Saad Rafique over the ‘small margin’ of Begum Kulsoom’s victory, the minister advised her to be careful in her politics.

“Maryam Bibi was targeted because she was the daughter of Nawaz Sharif. She needs to be more careful (in politics),” he told a private news channel.

He, however, agreed with the comments of former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan that there was no comparison between Maryam and the late Pakistan Peoples Party leader Benazir Bhutto. “Of course there is no comparison between Maryam Bibi and Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto at this stage as the latter had great sacrifices to her credit,” he said.

After winning the election, Maryam had lashed out at the judiciary and the military establishment.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2017