Former PM family poised to defy judiciary

Maryam asks father not to appear in NAB
Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Trapped in Catch-22, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the apparent political heir and daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday dropped a strong hint about the decision of former ruling family, for defying the judiciary by not appearing before the accountability court and face references filed by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Legal experts say that Sharif’s are trapped in a Catch-22 situation, and defying the courts was a strategy carved to evade possible and immediate conviction. Hence, the ruling family would try to drag their cases, to avoid immediate conviction, and play victimhood.
The tweet by Maryam Nawaz was posted soon after an accountability court observed displeasure over the failure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and other members of the Sharif family, to appear in the court and ordered all the accused to appear on September 26.
However, it was Maryam Nawaz who took to Twitter to advise her father to defy the court orders. When asked by a journalist if Nawaz Sharif will appear before the NAB court, the former first daughter tweeted back, “He (Nawaz Sharif) should not. Must not. Should not be a part of political and personal victimisation in the garb of accountability. It’s a FARCE.”
In a subsequent tweet, Maryam expressed her regret for appearing before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the five-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC).
“We appeared (before JIT) with reservations but also with a hope that our judicial system will follow a legal path and will not come under pressure,” she tweeted.
It is pertinent to mention here that Maryam is considered very close to the former minister Nawaz Sharif and she is being tipped as a likely replacement for her father. She also took another leap in her political career when she single-handedly ran the election campaign of her ailing mother, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, for NA-120 bye-election which the ruling party won last week. he summons delivered to the accused rather than having them sent to the security officers. He also ordered NAB to paste the summons outside the residences of the Sharif family in Lahore and directed the investigating officer to trace Hassan and Hussain’s London addresses.
“This is a criminal case and the security officer’s comment should have been brought on record,” said the judge. However, he turned down the prosecutor’s request of issuing arrest warrants for the accused to ensure their appearance before the court.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Asif Kirmani, who appeared in court on the Sharifs’ behalf, said that the family could not appear as they had all left to be with ailing Kulsoom Nawaz who was recovering from a surgery. He added that Kulsoom was scheduled to undergo another surgery in the next couple of days, therefore an exact date for the family’s return could not be ascertained.
Sources had earlier said that Nawaz Sharif and his children will not appear before the accountability court and were likely to skip all the proceedings. Last month, the former first family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had chosen not to appear before NAB after they were asked to join the investigation in different cases.
“The Sharifs are anticipating the outcome of these references, therefore they have no plans to appear before the accountability courts,” the source had said. It was likely that the accountability court might issue bailable or non-bailable arrest warrants for members of the family if they did not turn up in court after receiving two summonses.
Counsel for the Sharifs, Advocate Amjad Pervez, did not confirm whether his clients had told him to appear before the accountability court or not.
Maryam Nawaz, who had led the NA-120 by-election campaign on behalf of her mother for over a month, also left for London on a foreign airline flight hours after her mother won the by-poll with over 61,000 votes.
Maryam and her husband Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar’s departure had already triggered speculation that the entire Sharif family had gathered in London and may not return to face corruption and money laundering references filed against them in the courts.
Talking to reporters outside the court, family’s close aide Kirmani said that he had received the court’s summons in Islamabad the other day. Hence, he felt that it was a moral obligation to be present for the hearing and to apprise the judge about the Sharif family’s unavailability due to Kulsoom’s Nawaz’s illness. It’s a trap, court must keep its composure, should not be temperamental: Justice Wajih
Noted jurist Justice (retired) Wajihuddin Ahmed told Pakistan Today that the Sharif family had no options left with them but to defy the courts as it could help them play victimhood.
“Sharifs are in a Catch-22 situation. If they face courts, they are going to be punished soon as they don’t have any document to prove their innocence. They don’t have the money trail,” he said.
The veteran jurist also said that the Sharifs apparently had decided to evade legal process and want to avoid being punished by remaining absent from the legal proceedings. “Since their presence in the court may provide political legitimacy to their conviction, they want to evade the legal process. This is the best they can do,” he added.
The former justice also said that the family had no money trail thus they wanted to give their conviction a political colour.
“The court should not fall into their trap. The judge should provide all possible opportunity to Sharifs and not go hard on them. The defiance should not make the judges temperamental and rather the judiciary should keep composure and remain neutral,” he added.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said that the court should have issued warrants for the arrest of the accused, and hoped that the court will not take a lenient approach towards them in case they fail to appear at the next hearing.
Nawaz Sharif, his sons, daughter and son-in-law had been subpoenaed in three NAB references with regard to their flats in a posh London neighbourhood, Al-Azizia Steel Mills, Flagship Company Ltd and other offshore companies.
The fourth reference was filed against Ishaq Dar under Section 14-C for possessing assets beyond the known sources of his income.
The national anti-corruption watchdog [NAB] had filed the references against the Sharif family and finance minister in compliance with the SC’s verdict in the Panama Papers case.
On July 28, the apex court had disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ordered the filing of references against him, his children and the finance minister in light of the Panama JIT report.

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