LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has decided to return to the country before the next hearing in the corruption case against him in Islamabad’s accountability court on Oct 26, according to sources.
On Thursday, Mr Sharif booked a ticket for PIA’s flight PK-758 for Oct 22, said the sources.
“I am going to Pakistan before Oct 26 to face the cases against me in the accountability court,” the ousted premier said in London.
Visibly upset over his indictment in two references of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), he said to media personnel: “There is no precedence where the charges have been framed in absentia. Justice is being compromised... but I am still hopeful that justice will be done [in our cases],” he said.
Mr Sharif again asked why those who were opposed to his person were included in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.
“The JIT tried its best to collect something against me and my family. When nothing was found against me, I was ousted on Iqama [work permit] that every third Pakistani has. I would have quit the office myself had I been guilty of [taking] kickbacks or commissions,” he said.
A close aide to Mr Sharif told Dawn that Maryam Nawaz would leave for London by the time the former prime minister would return home. “The Sharif family has formed the strategy that only one member would stay here at a time to face the graft references in the accountability court,” he said.
The former prime minister had decided in principle that he, his daughter, and son-in-law (retired Capt Mohammad Safdar) would face the cases, he said. “However, it is most likely that his sons — Hassan and Hussain — being foreign nationals, may avoid facing the three graft references in the court.”
The bureau has already initiated the process of declaring Mr Sharif’s sons proclaimed offenders on the order of the accountability court. They have been given the deadline of Nov 10 to appear before the court; otherwise they will be declared proclaimed offenders and the process of issuing red warrants for them will begin.
Mr Sharif’s sons are likely to invoke protection under their foreign citizenship against the proceedings in the Pakistani courts.
“In case Maryam Bibi leaves for London [to attend to her ailing mother] she may appoint a ‘pleader’ to represent her in the court,” Advocate Amjad Pervez, a counsel for the Sharif family, told Dawn.
He said Mr Sharif had also appointed a ‘pleader’ to appear on his behalf on Thursday in the accountability court as he did not want to delay the trial.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2017