LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday granted interim pre-arrest bail to PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz in an inquiry of alleged illegal acquisition of land at Jati Umra initiated against her by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

She has been summoned by the anti-corruption watchdog for March 26 to answer the queries with regard to two inquiries – the land acquisition and Chaudhry Sugar Mills.

Ms Nawaz reached the high court along with her legal team as a two-judge bench took up her bail petition. Senior leaders of the party including Pervez Rashid, Rana Sanaullah Khan and Marriyum Aurangzeb also accompanied her.

LHC bench to hear NAB plea for restraining political workers from accompanying PML-N leader

Speaking to the media, Ms Nawaz said the NAB would not be allowed anymore to be used for political engineering to save the sinking boat of Prime Minister Imran Khan. “This time I have decided to fight back the vindictive actions of the NAB and not to become an easy prey for it,” she added.

The PML-N leader maintained that the so-called process of accountability filled with vengeance would not be tolerated anymore. “Earlier, we have exposed the NAB by tolerating its lopsided actions,” she said.

Ms Nawaz said had the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan been stable, she would not have been summoned by the NAB. She also condemned the NAB for declaring its office a red zone area ahead of her appearance. She claimed that there were no major differences among the members of the PDM and every party had the right to follow its own policy.

“I have cordial relations with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and being a daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, I know politics of restraint and am very well aware how to honour a relation,” Ms Nawaz added.

To a query as to who had been running the affairs of the NAB, she said except itself all had been running the NAB.

Earlier, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar argued before the bench that Ms Nawaz had been falsely implicated in the inquiry with mala fide intention as the matter had already been taken up by a Joint Investigation Team constituted by the Supreme Court and a subsequent reference was also filed. He said the land mentioned in the inquiry was the subject matter of the reference wherein the petitioner already remained on remand for 48 days. He said the NAB issued the impugned call-up notice only to humiliate the petitioner and she could also be arrested on her appearance before the investigating team.

Headed by Justice Sardar Muhammad Sarfraz Dogar, the bench allowed the bail till April 12 subject to furnishing bail bonds in sum of Rs1 million. The bench directed Ms Nawaz to join the investigation as and when required by the NAB and also appear before the court on each and every hearing. The bench also directed a special prosecutor of the NAB to submit a reply to the petition on the next hearing.

Ms Nawaz is already on bail in the sugar mills inquiry and a petition for the cancellation of her bail is pending with court.

NAB:The bench on Thursday (today) will hear a petition of the NAB to restrain PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz from appearing before its investigation team along with the workers of her and other political parties.

The petition contended that the bureau summoned the respondent for March 26 in two inquiries pending against her. It said at a previous appearance on Aug 11, 2020, the respondent had gathered the political workers outside the office of the NAB to deliberately hamper the proceedings and created a law and order situation. The workers had attacked the police team and tried to break the barriers placed outside the office of the NAB, said the petition.

It stated that the respondent, this time, also announced that she would appear before the investigation team along with the workers of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance of ten opposition parties. The announcement showed that the respondent would again try to hamper the proceedings and create a law and order situation, the petition expressed apprehensions and asked the court to order the respondent to not appear before the NAB along with the political workers.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2021

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