Nawaz Sharif
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Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of ex-premier, Nawaz Sharif, has told media that her brothers are non-resident Pakistanis, living in UK, and Pakistani laws are not applicable on them. “They will decide themselves” if to appear, she argued. Later her position was also echoed by Maryam Aurgangzeb, PMLN’s young Minister of Information, giving credence to the growing impression that Nawaz Sharif’s sons – Hussain and Hassan – will now stay away from the court proceedings on the pretext of being “non-residents”

Accountability court in Islamabad, on Oct 9, has meanwhile declared both Hussain and Hassan Sharif “absconders” and has ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate the process of declaring them as “Proclaimed Offenders” and submit details of all their properties that can be attached, under Section 87 & 88 of Pakistan Criminal Procedure Code (Cr PC) if they don’t present themselves to the court – and remain “absconders”. Court has also directed NAB to issue advertisements in major newspapers declaring Nawaz Sharif sons “absconders” from law.

Earlier, NAB officials had informed the court that summons were served to all family members – including Hussain and Hassan – at both their known addresses; Raiwind (Lahore) and in London. Summon were served in London through Pakistan High Commission. Hussain Nawaz’s statement was aired by Pakistani TV channels on Oct 8, that he has not received any summons. NAB told the Accountability Judge, Mohammad Bashir, that both sons are trying to avoid the court, on different pretexts. Earlier it was reported that they cannot come to court, because their mother was ill and they are attending to her in London. Same has been the reasoning advanced by lawyers of Nawaz Sharif that he should be excused from the court proceedings on Oct 9, because his wife is not well.

Accountability court in Islamabad, on Oct 9, has meanwhile declared both Hussain and Hassan Sharif “absconders” and has ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to initiate the process of declaring them as “Proclaimed Offenders”

Maryam Nawaz and her husband, Capt (r) Safdar however had presented them in court, on Monday, reaching from London, in the early morning of Oct 9. Court had issued non-bailbale arrest warrants for Capt. Safdar, Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz but only bailable warrants for Maryam Nawaz. Apparent reasoning had been that Nawaz Sharif’s lawyers had assured the court on Oct 2, that Maryam and her husband will travel from London and present themselves to the court. However lawyers and media familiar with the court proceedings think that Court had shown regard for her being Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and a key figure for PMLN. Maryam has often been referred to as “Heir Apparent” of Nawaz Sharif.

Lawyers familiar with the case, and with PMLN circles, have privately told GVS, that sons of Nawaz have been advised by their lawyers in London to stay away from the proceedings in Pakistan.

Legal experts appearing on Pakistani TV channels, including the respected constitutional expert, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, have told public that argument being advanced by Maryam Nawaz and minister Maryam Aurganzeb is patently bogus and sons of Nawaz Sharif don’t enjoy any immunity from Pakistani laws. Experts have maintained that any one who hold Pakistani passport is a Pakistani citizen and is accountable under country’s laws. Even if they hold British passports, they are still accountable since ‘dual citizens” are accountable in both jurisdiction. It is not clear if Hussain and Hassan Nawaz are British Citizens.

Legal experts appearing on Pakistani TV channels, including the respected constitutional expert, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, have told public that argument being advanced by Maryam Nawaz and minister Maryam Aurganzeb is patently bogus and sons of Nawaz Sharif don’t enjoy any immunity from Pakistani laws.

Lawyers familiar with the case, and with PMLN circles, have privately told GVS, that sons of Nawaz have been advised by their lawyers in London to stay away from the proceedings in Pakistan. British Legal advise to younger Sharifs is that becoming part of court process in Pakistan, may sooner or later create serious adverse consequences for their financial assets in UK.

Under the circumstances, now its a big question what NAB or Accountability court in Islamabad will or can do to force sons of Nawaz Sharif to appear and face indictment. They have already been declared “absconders” and once advertisements appear in major papers and they still don’t appear then possibility of approaching Interpol with Red Warrants exists. Legal expert inform GVS that its a long drawn process with many if and buts and depends upon the politics inside Pakistan. Apparently NAB teams are about to be sent abroad for further investigations.

Under the circumstances, now its a big question what NAB or Accountability court in Islamabad will or can do to force sons of Nawaz Sharif to appear and face indictment. They have already been declared “absconders” and once advertisements appear in major papers and they still don’t appear then possibility of approaching Interpol with Red Warrants exists.

On Oct 13, Friday, court is set to indict, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt. Safdar in references related to Hill Metal Establishment, FZE Capital, Al Azizia Steel Mills and Avon-field Apartments. Apparently Nawaz Sharif will be represented by a pleader on Oct 13. Earlier court had rejected his lawyer’s petition to grant him permanent absentia from proceedings. In the continuing absence of Nawaz’s sons, court will have no option but to split case into separate cases; given the interdependence of material, evidence and financial transactions between all these family members separate indictments and cases will weaken prosecution’s ability to present its case and will help defense to exploit these weaknesses. To that extent, Sharif family’s legal strategy is working well. However much depends upon the nature and direction of politics in the country.

Ministers, advisers, party leaders lead by Prime Minister, Abbassi, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, CAD Minister, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and others are trying desperately to sustain a narrative of Sharif family’s innocence and their witch hunt by judiciary, establishment and PTI. Major section of print and electronic media are part of this effort.

On Monday, Maryam Aurangzeb, the young Information Minister, handpicked for the ministerial job by Maryam Nawaz, again reiterated the oft-repeated line of the Sharif family and the PML-N that nothing was proven against the Sharif. She asserted: “When they couldn’t find any evidence, they disqualified him on the Iqama (work permit) issue.” Nawaz Sharif has so far been able to sell this line to his support base; however continuing excuses by him and his sons to stay away from the proceedings in corruption references may weaken the resolve of the PMLN support base.

Read more: Why are NAB references against Sharif family important?

PMLN Politics: The Battle of Optics

While the noose is certainly tightening around the Sharif family with NAB preparing its teams to travel to London and Dubai in order to further investigate offshore accounts, the PML-N has so far poised itself as a party loyal to the Sharif family. Ministers, advisers, party leaders lead by Prime Minister, Abbassi, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, CAD Minister, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and others are trying desperately to sustain a narrative of Sharif family’s innocence and their witch hunt by judiciary, establishment and PTI. Major section of print and electronic media are part of this effort.

Read more: Political parties cross swords over the appointment of NAB chief

On Oct 13, Friday, court is set to indict, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt. Safdar in references related to Hill Metal Establishment, FZE Capital, Al Azizia Steel Mills and Avon-field Apartments.

However political analysts, GVS spoke to, argue that the way, Accountability court process is advancing, step by step, and its becoming obvious that Sharif family is only defending itself, in these corruption cases, through strategy of absentia, technicalities of law and political rhetoric without going into the substance of charges against them, it will be difficult to sustain the narrative of “from Panama to Iqama”. Nawaz Sharif’s sons, the key accused – and main authors of financial transactions between companies under investigation – becoming “absconders” further weakens this narrative.

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