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LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has given ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hassan — 30 days to appear before the Islamabad accountability court, otherwise they will be declared proclaimed offenders (PO) and their properties attached.

Hussain and Hassan have decided ‘in principle’ not to join the proceedings of the corruption references against them.

On Wednesday, NAB officials pasted copies of the notice at the Model Town and Jati Umra residences of the Sharif family. The former prime minister’s sons are required to appear before the trial court within 30 days, starting from Oct 11, otherwise they would be declared proclaimed offenders and their properties would be attached.

“The process of issuing red warrants for Mr Sharif’s sons will begin after the completion of 30 days (on Nov 10), if they do not appear before court,” a NAB prosecutor told Dawn.

After 30-day deadline, Hussain and Hassan will be declared proclaimed offenders

On Oct 9, the accountability court in Islamabad ordered NAB to initiate the process of declaring the former premier’s sons POs, as they have consistently skipped the court’s proceedings in three graft references pertaining to their Park Lane flats and the establishment of offshore companies. Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar will be indicted on Oct 13.

According to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, Hassan and Hussain have chosen to invoke their foreign citizenship in order to skip the court proceedings in Pakistan. “They are foreign citizens and Pakistani laws do not apply to them, therefore they are unlikely to join the court proceedings against them here,” PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid told Dawn.

He said because Mr Sharif’s sons had been doing business abroad for over two decades, their financial matters were open for scrutiny in Britain and Saudi Arabia. “All their business affairs are being run according to the laws of the land there,” Senator Rashid said, adding that Mr Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law would, however, continue to attend court proceedings in the NAB references.

Another PML-N leader said the two brothers were British citizens and could hence take shelter behind Britain’s laws because they considered the proceedings in Pakistan to be ‘politically motivated’.

“It will be difficult for NAB to bring them back through red warrants as Pakistan and the UK do not have an extradition treaty,” he said, adding that Mr Sharif’s sons had doubts about getting justice in this case. “Foreseeing the verdict, they have asked their father to stay with them in London. It is anybody’s guess whether Mr Sharif will take his sons’ advice,” he said.

In respond to a question of whether the brothers owned property in Pakistan, the PML-N leader said: “So far, what we know is that they do not have any property under their names in Pakistan.”

Maryam Nawaz arrived in Lahore from Islamabad on Tuesday on a special plane. She stayed at the home of her son-in-law, which is located on The Mall, rather than going to her Jati Umra residence.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Begum Mehnaz Rafi has questioned why Maryam had been given a government-owned plane to use for personal reasons.

“Under what legal capacity was the government-owned plane used to transport her (Maryam) from Islamabad to Lahore. Why are the government’s resources being used for a suspect in graft references? The court must take notice of this,” Ms Rafi demanded.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2017