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ISLAMABAD: The Natio­nal Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday failed to arrest any of the Sharifs after the pronouncement of the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield property reference despite having received an original certified copy of the judgement.

While former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz were in the United Kingdom when the court in Islamabad awarded the sentence, his son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar was present in Pakistan yet he was not taken into custody for unexplained reasons.

When contacted by Dawn, the additional prosecution general of NAB, Akbar Tarar, said: “There is no need to get any special permission from the accountability court for the arrest of Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Capt Safdar.

“It is a common law that once the court declares someone a convict, he/she has to be arrested at once and there is no need to get specific permission for seeking their arrest warrant.”

The NAB’s additional prosecution general’s statement is quite clear, but it raised the question as to why Mr Safdar was not arrested after the court decision.

“If Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar had been present in the court at the time of announcement of the decision, they would have been arrested on the spot,” Mr Tarar argued.

Asked then why Mr Safdar had not been taken into custody by NAB, Mr Tarar said that he would be arrested soon.

A source in NAB said the bureau would seek court permission on Monday for their arrest and would also request the interior ministry to place their names on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The source said: “NAB will implement the orders of the Accountability Court, Islamabad, to arrest Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz after the issuance of arrest warrants as per law. Retired captain Safdar, who is in Pakistan, will also be arrested after obtaining arrest warrants.

“NAB Lahore’s team of investigators, led by Imran Dogar, is in Islamabad to obtain arrest warrants from the accountability court in order to implement the court order.”

A source in NAB told Dawn that for any arrest in under trial cases the bureau had to submit an application before the relevant court for it. “Therefore, NAB will seek permission for the arrest of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar on Monday,” the source added.

NAB would also request the interior ministry to get their names placed on the ECL within the next two days so that Capt Safdar might not escape abroad, another source revealed.

The bureau had earlier too requested the interior ministry for putting the names of the accused persons in the Avenfield property case on the ECL, but officials of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government were reluctant to do so.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2018