ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday appeared before an accountability court in three graft references filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in connection with his family’s offshore properties.
After a brief hearing, Judge Muhammad Bashir allowed Sharif to leave. Sharif informed the judge that his wife is not well. He added his children are in London, looking after their ailing mother.
The court handed over copies of the references along with relevant documents to Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Harris and said it would indict him on next hearing on Oct 2.
The judge also issued bailable warrants for the arrest of Sharif’s children and son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar after their failure to show up in the court. He warned that if they failed to appear on next hearing, he would issue their non-bailable arrest warrants.
At this, Harris said it appeared that the court is under pressure. To which, the judge remarked that it was not about pressure, but the cases had to be decided within six-month deadline set by the apex court.
Sharif arrived in the court amid tight security and an extensive protocol comprising more than 30 vehicles. Special security arrangements had been made with around 1500 personnel of the police and Frontier Constabulary deployed outside and along the road leading to the court.
A number of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leaders and workers accompanied the former prime minister during his first appearance before the accountability court.
The court had also summoned members of his family, including Hussain Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz, Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Capt Safdar, but they did not appear today since they are still in London in connection with treatment of their mother Kulsoom Nawaz.
The former prime minister would also hold a key press conference after his appearance before the NAB court, according to his political secretary Asif Kirmani.
A day before, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar appeared before the court in a NAB reference against him for allegedly accumulating wealth beyond his known sources of income. The court ordered provision of a copy of the reference to the minister and adjourned the hearing until Sept 27 when he will be indicted in the case.
After spending about a month in the United Kingdom with his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz, Sharif landed on Monday at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad where he was received by a number of party leaders, including Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.
The former prime minister had a lengthy discussion with his close aides and party leaders all the day at Punjab House.
The accountability court had last week directed Sharif and members of his family to appear before it on Sept 26 in graft references against them.
Judge Muhammad Bashir had reissued summons against members of the Sharif family after they failed to turn up on September 19 in response to the court’s earlier notice for appearance.
The NAB had filed three references against Sharif, and his children in connection with their flats in a posh London neighbourhood, Al Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Company Ltd and other offshore companies.
The fourth reference was filed against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar under Section 14-c for possessing assets beyond the known sources of his income.
The national anti-graft watchdog had filed the references against Sharif family and finance minister in compliance with the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.
On July 28, the apex court had disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ordered filing of references against him, his children and the finance minister in light of the Panama joint investigation team report.