LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz and her cousin were remanded in custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday for 12 days in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

NAB arrested Ms Nawaz and her cousin Yousaf Abbas on Thursday at the Kot Lakhpat jail when they were there to see former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Extraordinary security arrangements were made on Friday outside the judicial complex before the court appearance of Ms Nawaz as all adjoining roads were cordoned off and anti-riot police were deployed in and outside the building.

The police placed containers and barbed wire to block the roads; however, hundreds of PML-N workers managed to reach the complex.

Several PML-N leaders, including Muhammad Zubair, Khurram Dastagir and Azma Bokhari, turned up at the court to express solidarity with Ms Nawaz. Her husband retired Capt Muhammad Safdar, son and daughter were also present in the court.

Skirmishes between the police personnel and lawyers affiliated to the PML-N were witnessed outside the courtroom. The police also manhandled media persons and denied them entry to the court. DSP Muhammad Khan thrashed some reporters, including Danish Munir, Ammar Ali and Zainul Abideen.

Judge asks investigating officer to complete inquiry pending for several months

On the Lower Mall, MPA Azma Bokhari and other women of her party scuffled with the police when a policeman physically tried to stop them from heading to the judicial complex. Ms Bokhari almost fainted during the episode.

Subsequently, NAB presented Ms Nawaz and Mr Abbas before of the accountability court’s duty judge Naeem Arshad with a request to grant their 15-day physical remand.

Special Prosecutor Waris Ali Janjua submitted an application for the remand saying that though an inquiry was initiated in 2018, some incriminating evidence to establish the involvement of the suspects had recently been traced.

He said that investments of various heavy amounts were made by Ms Nawaz, being the main shareholder at the time of setting up of the Chaudhry Sugar Mills. He said that she was involved in money laundering that she carried out with the help of some foreigners in 1992-93 when her father was the country’s prime minister.

He said that Rs400 million was poured into the company by Ms Nawaz in 2008 even though she did not have any independent source of income. Regarding Mr Abbas, the prosecutor levelled similar allegations and sought his custody.

Advocate Amjad Pervez appeared on behalf of Ms Nawaz and described the request for remand as unjustified. He argued that there was a strong nexus and relevance of the instant case with the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Panama Papers case.

He said that Ms Nawaz’s arrest in this inquiry amounted to double jeopardy and malicious prosecution. The grounds of the arrest had not been furnished to the suspects, he added.

In his order, the judge observed that prima facie sufficient and reasonable grounds had been referred to by the prosecution to justify custody of the suspects. He noted that evidence was available with the NAB that significant amounts had been shown to be invested by the suspects without having any ostensible sources of income.

The judge granted physical remand of the suspects to the NAB and directed it to produce them again on Aug 21.

The judge also directed the bureau to strictly observe sanctity of the suspect’s gender as permissible under the law. He ordered the investigating officer to make positive efforts to complete the inquiry as it had already been underway for the last many months.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2019