News Analysis |
Anti-graft court in Islamabad has dismissed the protests raised by the counsel for ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif against a prosecution representative in a corruption reference.
Judge Mohammad Bashir gave this decision in Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). On Wednesday, the court had heard NAB’s plea to include documents provided by Noreen Shahzad — who replaced prosecution witness Malik Tayyab as branch manager of Standard Chartered Bank — in the case record.
The NAB court granted Sharif family an 8-day exemption from appearing before the court since Nawaz Sharif wanted to visit his wife, Kalsum Nawaz, who is undergoing treatment in London.
Hamid had objected to the request, saying that since Shahzad’s name is not on the witness list, documents provided by her cannot be counted as evidence. The court after hearing arguments from both sides on Thursday rejected the objections raised by Hamid against Shahzad’s status.
Why are NAB references against Sharif family important?
The references were filed in-line with the unanimous verdict of the Supreme Court on the Panama Case. The references are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt. Safdar were indicted last month, something that analysts termed as a real setback to the former ruling family. Following the set sequence, the accountability court kicked off the much-awaited trial.
Legal experts argue that the Sharif family has devised a strategy in which they individually appear before the accountability courts on separate dates. However, if all accused are not present in the court simultaneously than all the prerequisites of an indictment will not be completed, hence, forcing the court to split the one case of corruption against all concerned into many separate cases.
Hamid had objected to the request, saying that since Shahzad’s name is not on the witness list, documents provided by her cannot be counted as evidence.
Earlier, the NAB court granted Sharif family an 8-day exemption from appearing before the court since Nawaz Sharif wanted to visit his wife, Kalsum Nawaz, who is undergoing treatment in London. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the powerful political class has been brought under the fold of accountability. The Judiciary seems to be functioning independently, while the establishment is apolitical. However, in order to ensure a legal and fair process of accountability takes place, political gimmickry by the Sharif family in order to sabotage the accountability process must be ended.
Read more: Nawaz Sharif appears in accountability court
While analysts and legal experts expect little from the current NAB references against Sharif family, it has strengthened hopes of impartial accountability of the powerful in the country.