Maryam Nawaz, daughter of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and her husband retired Captain Muhammad Safdar appeared before an accountability court in Islamabad on Monday in connection with a reference prepared against them by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Maryam arrived at the court amid tight security Monday morning, accompanied by senior PML-N leaders and ministers. Her husband, who was taken into custody by NAB upon his arrival to Pakistan, was brought to the court later.
The son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif and his wife had arrived from London on Monday morning to appear before the accountability court in connection with the NAB reference pertaining to London properties owned by the Sharif family.
During the hearing, PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry submitted surety bonds worth Rs5 million on behalf of Maryam. She was also provided a copy of the NAB reference along with relevant details.
After hearing arguments from the prosecution, the court accepted bail of both Maryam and her husband. The judge ordered NAB authorities to release Capt Safdar after he too submitted surety bonds worth Rs5m.
The judge also barred Capt Safdar from leaving the country without the court's permission.
The couple separately left the court after acceptance of their bail.
Exemption request rejected
The court also heard arguments on an application filed by Nawaz Sharif seeking permanent exemption from appearance in the court.
When the court asked Sharif's counsel, Khawaja Harris, whether he was requesting exemption from today's hearing only, the lawyer responded that his client had gone to London to look after his ailing wife and he should, therefore, be granted permanent exemption.
After initially reserving the decision, the court rejected the application for Sharif's permanent exemption, allowing him to be absent from today's hearing only.
Meanwhile, the NAB prosecution asked the court to issue arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif, who they said had left for London, despite being a primary accused, without informing NAB authorities. Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir reserved his decision on this matter.
Hassan, Hussain declared proclaimed offenders
The accountability court declared Hassan and Hussain Nawaz proclaimed offenders for repeatedly failing to appear before the court in connection with the NAB references
The court also issued perpetual warrants for the arrest of Nawaz Sharif's two sons, and separated their trial from other members of the family.
Asked when her brothers, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, will appear before the court, Maryam said they would take their decisions themselves.
"My brothers live abroad... the laws of here [Pakistan] don't apply to them."
The hearing was adjourned until October 13, when members of the Sharif family will be indicted.
'These trials will last until day of judgement'
Talking to reporters after her appearance before the court, Maryam said her family is being tried despite already receiving the punishment — the disqualification of her father Nawaz Sharif.
"These trials will last until the day of judgement unless something emerges in which he [Sharif] or anyone from his family is caught," she said.
Maryam said the questions taken up by the Supreme Court-mandated Joint Investigation Team regarding her family businesses continue to remain questions "because they are false allegations with no answers".
She said her father had been disqualified on the basis of a pre-decided verdict.
"Questions will be raised when the case starting on Panama ends in iqama... and the judges will have to answer them."
Maryam said her family members had presented themselves for accountability and the legal troubles against them would soon come to an end.
"We are not among those who worry about arrests."
Safdar taken into custody
Capt Safdar was taken into custody by a NAB team minutes after he landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport along with his wife Maryam from London in the early hours of Monday morning.
The NAB authorities had to seek help of the Islamabad police when the charged workers of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N lay down in front of the NAB vehicle carrying Capt Safdar.
The arrest followed issuance of non-bailable warrants by the accountability court for Capt Safdar after he failed to appear on previous hearings despite notices.
Amid slogans by the PML-N supporters, Maryam Nawaz left the airport for the residence of PML-N leader Chaudhry Muneer, reports said.
Earlier, before her departure for Islamabad from London on Sunday, Maryam Nawaz said that the so-called accountability of her family continuing for the past over one year was not for justice but for revenge. But she quickly added that she was returning “to test the judicial system”.
Capt Safdar told Geo News that the couple had decided to return to Pakistan on the advice of their lawyers.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months. The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.
The former premier and his sons have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.
The trial court judge has already decided that in case the children of Nawaz Sharif do not join the proceedings, the court would indict Sharif alone and start his trial separately.
On Oct 2, the accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Sharif's sons — Hussain and Hassan Nawaz — and son-in-law Capt Safdar for failing to appear in court. The judge, however, did not issue non-bailable warrants for Maryam but repeated the bailable arrest warrants after the counsel for Sharif assured the court that she and her spouse would join the proceedings on the next date of hearing on October 9.