Sharif
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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has given the Sharif family seven more days to appear before the accountability courts in relation to proceedings of references filed in-line with the verdict of the Supreme Court on the Panama Case in July, this year.

NAB ordained the family to appear on the 26th of September and despatched to its address in London where the entire family is ostensibly looking after the ailing and newly-elected lawmaker, Kulsoom Nawaz.

PML-N leader and long-regarded as the close spokesperson of the Sharif family, Asif Kirmani said that the family is in London to look after Ms.Kulsoom Nawaz, who is likely to undergo a surgery in the new couple of days.

NAB prosecutors told the court that they were not allowed to enter the houses of the Sharifs and had to hand over summons to the guards. They also complained that earlier, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz had refused to receive the summons.

Ever since the announcement of the Panama verdict, the Sharif family, and Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar have shown utter defiance of NAB, casting serious aspersions on how sacrosanct law is in the eyes of the rulers. NAB’s softness has also been criticized by the opposition and pundits.

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PML-N leader and long-regarded as the close spokesperson of the Sharif family, Asif Kirmani said that the family is in London to look after Ms.Kulsoom Nawaz, who is likely to undergo a surgery in the next couple of days. However, he also claimed that he does not have their exact address in London.

Sharif family, in particular, adopted this route the last time in 1999 when they left the country under an alleged ‘agreement’ with General Musharaff and came back when the accountability cases disappeared or were not pursued.

However, the mood in the PML-N camp and the statements of Maryam Nawaz tell a different story. The Sharif family is all in readiness not to appear before the accountability courts.

It seems they are banking on what Pakistani politicians have long done in history. Allowing legal cases to go ahead in Pakistan, whilst staying out of the country long enough for them to come back at the right time, to not face any consequences or when the cases have lapsed. Sharif family, in particular, adopted this route the last time in 1999 when they left the country under an alleged ‘agreement’ with General Musharaff and came back when the accountability cases disappeared or were not pursued. Iftikhar Chaudhury, Supreme Court Justice, even took the unusual step of giving the Sharif relief on time-barred cases in the Sindh high court.

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Maryam Nawaz has said that his father will not appear before the accountability courts at any cost, raising the vitriol against the law-implementing organ of the state. Maryam left for London with her husband, Captain Safdar, a day after running her mother’s campaign in Lahore in the NA-120 by-election.

It will be interesting to see what pretext is used this time to duck the hearings since the review petitions have been dismissed. However, it is quite clear that the Nawaz family along with PML-N in tow is in confrontation mode.

In an interview with a private TV Channel on Saturday, she emphatically said that her family would not appear before NAB. “Nawaz Sharif is not going to appear before any accountability court. If you want to arrest him then go ahead,” she asserted.

An accountability court on Thursday, summoned five members of the Sharif family on September 19 and the current Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on September 20, in four references filed against them in line with the apex court’s verdict, which was upheld last week when the 5-member bench dismissed the review petition.

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Nawaz Sharif was summoned to the accountability court on Tuesday along with his sons, daughter, and son-in-law. However, the family has decided to skip the proceedings. Last month, Sharif and Ishaq Dar did not appear before NAB on the pretext that they had filed a review petition in the top court.

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It will be interesting to see what pretext is used this time to duck the hearings since the review petitions have been dismissed. However, it is quite clear that the Nawaz family along with PML-N in tow is in confrontation mode. Presenting the whole Panama saga as a conspiracy against them.

The PML-N has been stressing that the five-member bench of the Supreme Court has disrespected the mandate of the people. Ministers also joined the Sharif family in disparaging the courts and pointing towards hands of hidden forces.

Maryam Nawaz made a short victory speech after her mother, Kulsoom Nawaz won the by-polls in NA-120. She vehemently asserted that the result of the poll implies that people have rejected all conspiracies against her father. She said: “The forces which were surrounding Nawaz Sharif have been defeated. The people rejected court verdict based on injustice and announced their decision.”

The PML-N has been stressing that the five-member bench of the Supreme Court has disrespected the mandate of the people. Ministers also joined the Sharif family in disparaging the courts and pointing towards hands of hidden forces. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi while meeting Nawaz Sharif said that conspiracies are being hatched against his party.

After Sunday’s victory in the by-election, Interior and foreign ministers, Ahsan Iqbal and Khawaja Asif tweeted boisterously. Iqbal said that the N League has won against everyone as he used the term “World XI”.

The PML-N is of the opinion that only the people can hold them to account through the ballot. The case is made that there should be no ‘qualifications’ set for the people standing for public office. That is if the people vote for a corrupt individual they should be allowed to stand and gain office. It is an argument that is not only tenuous but would set a dangerous precedent that would bring down the whole edifice of accountable and liberal democratic setups around the world.

With NAB references being an important corollary of the verdict against Nawaz Sharif, the proceedings cannot be skipped legally. It remains to be seen whether NAB will wilt under influence of the government or act as an independent body in following the orders of the apex court.

Sunday’s by-election depicts an alarming situation for the PML-N. In 2013, they bagged 91,666 votes from this constituency while on Sunday it bagged 61,254, which in effect translates into a huge loss in its vote bank especially considering that the constituency is its fiefdom.

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With NAB references being an important corollary of the verdict against Nawaz Sharif, the proceedings cannot be skipped legally. It remains to be seen whether NAB will wilt under influence of the government or act as an independent body in following the orders of the apex court.

It will be important to see as to how the NAB chases the Sharif family. Will the body succumb to pressure or act independently? What will be more interesting to note is whether the sitting government will influence NAB’s workings or follow court orders in letter and spirit.

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