The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday requested the Interior Ministry to place the name of former premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and his son-in-law Capt (Retd) Safdar on the Exit Control List (ECL) due to fears that they may leave the country before the hearings of the case against them is over. The request came in light of Nawaz and Maryam’s recent request to be exempted from the hearings of a graft case in the accountability court. NAB is worried that it would face similar criticism that it had to after Isaac Dar left the country and did not return for hearings last year, that the trio would do the same.
In India on Monday, Chief Justice of India, Dipak Mishra asked the logic behind having a criminal and corrupt person as the head of a political party. “How can a convicted person be an office-bearer of a political party and select candidates to contest elections? This goes against our judgments that corruption in politics [are] to be ostracised from the purity of elections,” Chief Justice Misra orally observed.
Last December, the Indian Supreme court took a case to examine whether the Electoral Commission India had the powers to deregister a political party on the ground that a convicted person has either formed it or is a crucial office-bearer.
In Pakistan, Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar are accused in different cases and proceedings going on in the accountability court. Graft references were filed against the three accused by NAB after investigation orders of the Supreme Court (SC) in its 28th July 2017 verdict, which disqualified Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister of Pakistan. Three references were filed against Nawaz; Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments; while Maryam and Safdar are accused in the Avenfield properties case.
NAB had earlier filed a supplementary reference against the Sharif family in the Avenfield properties case and seven new witnesses were set to record their statements
During the hearing of the graft cases at the accountability court in Islamabad yesterday, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz requested for a two week exemption from the hearing starting from 19th February. They stated that Nawaz’s wife and Maryam’s mother, Kulsoom Nawaz, was under treatment in London and they had to go to visit her.
NAB had earlier filed a supplementary reference against the Sharif family in the Avenfield properties case and seven new witnesses were set to record their statements, including two UK based witnesses who will record their statements via video links. They were supposed to record their statements on Tuesday but the lawyer of Maryam Nawaz and Capt (Retd) Safdar was not present in the court at that time, so the hearing was delayed till 22nd February.
Transparency International (TI), an International non-governmental Organization (INGO), has started probe into five controversial properties in the UK including Sharif family’s Avenfield properties. The investigations were started under the new ‘Unexplained Wealth Order’ law in the UK, which calls for declaration of source of wealth while purchasing land.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry, during a press briefing accused Nawaz of using delay tactics. He asserted that the testimony of two UK based witnesses would be enough to convict him.
On Wednesday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry, during a press briefing accused Nawaz of using delay tactics. He asserted that the testimony of two UK based witnesses would be enough to convict him. NAB’s decision to place the name of the Sharif family adds weight to Chaudhry’s suspicion that they might be attempting to flee the country.
The request has placed the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in a dilemma since he cannot place the name of his party’s chief in the ECL and he cannot publicly turn down the request of NAB. He is in the same situation that former interior minister Rehman Malik was placed in when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was put on the ECL back in 2012. The SC which had ordered him to reopen dormant fraud investigations against then President Asif Ali Zardari , when Gillani refused the court disqualified him as PM.
The request has placed the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in a dilemma since he cannot place the name of his party’s chief in the ECL and he cannot publicly turn down the request of NAB.
NAB had made a similar request to the interior ministry in November last year, asking for it to put the former finance minister, Ishaq Dar to be placed on the ECL. The interior ministry sent back the request stating the reason from NAB. When the reason was given, the ministry told NAB that it was useless to place Dar’s name on ECL , since he had already out of the country by that time.
A similar delaying tactic may be used by the interior ministry. Media analysts believe that the Sharif family maybe showing foresight in planning; if they think the balance of graft cases is tilting against them, after the hearing on 22nd February.
The interior ministry has announced that it will not put their names on the ECL because there is no full court order.