News Analysis |
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (Retd.) Safdar Hussain appeared before an accountability court on Wednesday. This is the first hearing of the three references filed against the Sharif family after the winter break.
The NAB prosecution team produced two more witnesses against the Sharif family today. An official of the Inland Revenue department Muhammad Tasneem and NAB’s assistant director Zawar Manzoor. Tasneem told the anti-graft that he provided verified income and tax record of Sharif to NAB officials, while Manzoor testified against the Sharif family in the Avenfield Properties reference. The defense counsel Khawaja Haris cross examined the witnesses.
The Sharif family has no options but to triumph in these graft references and come out clean, that is the only way that they can win the upcoming elections and keep their party in power.
The prosecution has produced 11 witnesses against the Sharif family so far. Three references have been filed against Nawaz Sharif and his sons; Avenfield properties, Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment, while a single reference has been filed against Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (Retd.) Safdar Hussain regarding Avenfield properties.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif on 28th July 2017 on the basis of Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution. The apex court also ordered NAB to file references against Nawaz and his three children and also directed the accountability court to decide the references within six months. Last month another NAB reference was filed against Nawaz Sharif and his brother, chief minister Shahbaz Sharif regarding the construction of a two way from Raiwind to their residency.
The political career of Nawaz and his family are at stake in these graft references. It all started with the ‘Panama Papers leak’ that detailed the financial and attorney-client information of thousands of offshore companies. The leak took place in 2015. It linked the Sharif family with 8 offshore companies.
Musharraf’s grand alliance of 23 parties, PTI’s alliance with JUI-S and possible alliance with Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) prove that the opposition parties are willing to leave no stone unturned.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court by PTI chief Imran Khan and Shiekh Rasheed Ahmad. The Nawaz government was still recovering from the 2014 anti-government protest when this case came into light. The Supreme Court later disqualified Nawaz Sharif and started fresh investigations against him and his family in NAB.
These corruption references have the potential to totally change the political landscape of Pakistan. If a person like Nawaz Sharif, who has been the Prime Minister of Pakistan three times and whose party is still in the government, can be tried for corruption, then no one is safe from the hands of justice and accountability. This case will set a new precedent of accountability in the country. Future power holders will show more responsibility towards authority.
It would be a huge setback for the PML-N if the corruption charges are proved against the Sharif family. The 2018 elections are right around the corner and PML-N is still in a good position to win the elections and come into power once again. It might not be a strong government but they would still have a significant majority in the assembly.
The political career of Nawaz and his family are at stake in these graft references. It all started with the ‘Panama Papers leak’ that detailed the financial and attorney-client information.
Other parties are making coalitions to give the PML-N a tough time, the revival of MMA, Musharraf’s grand alliance of 23 parties, PTI’s alliance with JUI-S and possible alliance with Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) prove that the opposition parties are willing to leave no stone unturned to win the next election, and get PML-N out of power.
A decision against the Sharif family would have a huge impact on their political base; it would leave a power vacuum that other parties would be happy to fill. The Sharif family has no options but to triumph in these graft references and come out clean, that is the only way that they can win the upcoming elections and keep their party in power. The future of PML-N hangs in the balance; only time will tell their fate.