News Analysis |
Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law, Captain Safdar were indicted by an accountability court on Thursday, the latter on the graft reference pertaining to the Avenfield Flats filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The anti-corruption court acted in-line with the unanimous verdict of the 5-member bench of the Supreme Court on the Panama Case on July 28, 2017. The indictment order reads that they have not been able to account for the sources of income used to purchase the London flats. The trial on the Avenfield flats reference will start on October 26, 2017.
Maryam Nawaz was charged for being the beneficial owner of the London flats while her husband, Capt. Safdar for being complicit in the acquisition. Moreover, the charge sheet includes allegations on Maryam for forgery in the 2006 Trust deed that was presented to the court, identified by the use of the Calibri font which was only available for public use in 2007. Maryam’s Avenfield Trust Deed used Calibri font, a year before its launch. The 67-year old Nawaz, who is in London, was indicted in presence of his pleader, Zafir Khan. Nawaz Sharif was indicted on the Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment references as well. His sons Hassan and Hussain were also named as co-accused.
It would be interesting to note how the PML-N will extricate itself from this saga. Will the party’s insistence on saving the Sharif family override the need for it to act like a veritable ruling party?
The Sharif family rejected the charges. Maryam Nawaz, in her brief talk to the media, shunned all allegations while questioning the process of accountability. Maryam further said the process was fraudulent. “Please do not make a mockery of justice, law, and constitution,” said Maryam, continuing with her old assertions about the farce of accountability.
After her indictment, her pleader read out: “I do not plead guilty. Charges are not only groundless, baseless and unfounded but also frivolous, and on top of that we are being denied our right to fair trial. The charges are being framed on a report that is incomplete and controversial. It will go down in history as [a] mockery of justice and travesty of justice. Moreover, the charges are being framed without awaiting the detailed order of the Supreme Court in the review petitions.”
She added: “It cannot happen that injustice and atrocities continue together.” Days after being cautioned by his uncle, CM Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, Maryam took a dig at the other institutions of the state by saying: “Each institution should do its job.” The 43-year old also said: “JIT ka fraud pakra gya.” (JIT’s counterfeit was caught).
Reiterating her earlier references to the ‘nefarious’ role played by the judiciary, Maryam said that one day someone will hold to account the accountability process that her family is going through.
The indictment is followed by a trail; today, the PML-N and the Sharif family have, according to experts inched closer towards more punishments and more painstaking investigations
The trio was indicted hours after the anti-graft court rejected an application submitted by Capt Safdar’s counsel Amjad Pervez which sought another adjournment of the indictment proceedings. The application argued that the statements given by three witnesses in the JIT were not made public and Volume X not given to the defendants. NAB asserted that volume X had nothing to do with the indictment.
The petition, termed by pundits as a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable indictment was followed by another petition filed by Nawaz Sharif’s junior lawyer, Ayesha Hamid, his lead lawyer Khawaja Haris is out of the country. She sought a postponement in proceedings till the time the Supreme Court gives the decision regarding multiple references. This petition was also rejected.
A third application filed by Nawaz Sharif’s counsel sought a merger of the three references filed against him. The court has reserved its decision on the application. By the look of things, the application may not be entertained.
Reiterating her earlier references to the nefarious role played by the judiciary, Maryam said that one day someone will hold to account the accountability process that her family is going through
The indictment was delayed by six days as ruckus and mayhem in the last hearing on 13th October disallowed proceedings to take place. Analysts, who were clear in spelling out PML-N’s attempts to delay the indictment assert that the family is now at the mercy of NAB. They believe that the indictment has expedited the steep decline in the family’s power and by virtue of that, the party has been battered.
The indictment is followed by a trail; today, the PML-N and the Sharif family have, according to experts inched closer towards more punishments and more painstaking investigations. While opponents will lash out at the Sharifs and term it as “poetic justice”, the affected family and the bruised party is likely to respond.
Maryam Nawaz was charged for being the beneficial owner of the London flats while her husband, Capt. Safdar for being complicit in the acquisition. The 67-year old Nawaz was indicted in presence of his pleader, Zafir Khan
Legal experts believe that there are scant legal options for the family to resort to. However, political pundits and watchers believe that the party has many aces up their sleeves. Given that the PML-N has ratcheted up its diatribes against the Army and the judiciary, analysts feel that the conspiracy narrative will be pushed forward robustly. However, there are strong voices in the party who are against such an approach, to include CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.
It would be interesting to note how the PML-N will extricate itself from this saga. Will the party’s insistence on saving the Sharif family override the need for it to act like a veritable ruling party? The answers will be out soon; they could determine the future political landscape of the country.