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Nawaz appears before AC today, Dar to be indicted tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is all set to appear before the Accountability Court (AC) today (Tuesday) here in three cases that have been filed on the orders of the Supreme Court and are being monitored by the same apex court.

Meanwhile on Monday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar appeared before the AC and would be indicted tomorrow (September 27) after which formal prosecution process will get started. During hearing, AC judge Muhammad Bashir indicated that it could hear this case on day-to-day basis as it has to conclude this matter within six months time under the guidelines of the Supreme Court.

Earlier in the morning, Nawaz Sharif, in a daring step, arrived here from London and had lengthy discussions with his party colleagues all the day at the picturesque Punjab House in the lap of lush green Margala Hills.

He was received by workers and leaders of the party upon his arrival in Islamabad. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was among his visitors in the day with whom he had detailed discussions in London also in the presence of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.

Highly-placed sources told The News here on Monday that Nawaz intends to stay here as he has made up his mind to run the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) in an aggressive and progressive manner to fight out all odds and take it to the next polls under his leadership. For the time being, the PML-N would keep on working under the present arrangements till the legislation is made for paving his way towards election and continuation as the party chief.

For the purpose, constitution of the PML-N would be amended. The sudden dash by Nawaz for appearance before the accountability court indicates that the health of former first lady Begum Kulsum Nawaz Sharif was stable after three sensitive surgeries in London for malignancy or he wouldn’t have returned to Islamabad.

She is still under observation of a team of senior doctors. She is being looked after by her daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif, two sons Hussain and Hasan Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (R) Muhammad Safdar. All the four are also required to appear before the NAB court but a plea is being made for their exemption for appearance before the court.

Similar submission will be placed by Nawaz today when he will make his maiden appearance in the court. Nawaz decided to face the court though he has been disapproving of the verdict that first ousted him from the office of the prime minister and subsequently cases have been instituted in a strange manner by flouting the past traditions and laws against him.

The sources said that Nawaz has evolved a future political strategy with the consultations of party stalwarts. Theexpand his political consultations as he isn’t willing to attach any significance to the demand for early polls by one single opposition party chief who doesn’t enjoy even his own party’s support for the demand.

The sources indicated that the major decision regarding the future course of action of the party would be made public after return of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif later this week to the country. In the meanwhile, Nawaz has expressed his satisfaction with the working of the administration under Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as he inquired about the developmental projects initiated by him during last four years before he stepped down, the source said.

Leaders and workers belonging to the PML-N thronged to the federal capital including Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Governor Punjab Malik Rafiq Rajwana, Advisor to the Prime Minster Sardar Mehtab Ahmad Khan Abbasi, federal ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Zahid Hamid, Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Prime Minister Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider to greet him on his return.

Nawaz congratulated leaders of his party including Senator Pervez Rashid on victory in NA-120 contest. In its July 28 verdict in the so-called Panama Papers case, the apex court had ordered NAB to file references against Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz, her husband Capt (R) Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar within six weeks of the announcement of the judgment.

All legal and constitutional perspectives related to NAB references against the Sharif family were explored, sources said. Nawaz was in London to look after his ailing wifewho’s suffering from Lymphoma, and has had three surgeries so far. “I never planned to stay back in London had only come to take care of my wife, neither are we corrupt, nor have we looted money from the state treasure,” he had said before departing London.

The spokesman of the PML-N and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr Syed Asif Saeed Kirmani has said that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will appear before Accountability Court in Islamabad. Talking to newsmen in Islamabad, he said that the PML-N has always held the courts in high esteem. He said that the former Prime Minister will also address a news conference today in Punjab House.

Denying rumors about any rifts in the party, he said consultations within the party continue, but rumors are only wishful dreams of the opponents. With the arrival of Nawaz Sharif, Punjab House has become hub of political activities as the PML-N and its ally’s party’s leader kept on visiting the House to greet the most popular leader of the country.

Senior PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan held a meeting with the former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in Punjab House and expressed confidence in his leadership.

The two leaders met on Nawaz Sharif’s return from London after a gap of over one month. As Chaudhry Nisar reached Punjab House, ex-Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Dr Asif Kirmani and other party leaders were also present there.

To start with, Nisar inquired about health of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz who had undergone three surgeries of for throat cancer. Later, during one-to-one meeting, the two leaders exchanged reservations with each other.

The party sources said that the leaders who met after a gap of one and half months managed to resolve misunderstandings. “The former interior minister has also reposed confidence in leadership of Nawaz Sharif,” the sources said.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also met the former Premier at Punjab House and discussed with him political situation in the country with particular reference to party affairs.

Nawaz said that parents spent all their resources to educate their children but young people with degrees in their hands had to rush from pillar to post in search of jobs but in vain. He said it was imperative to create an awakening among the youth against the status quo and about the benefits of the Islamic system based on justice and equality.

Separately, Dar appeared before the AC of Islamabad whose bail-able arrest warrants were issued on September 20.

Dar appeared before the court in connection with a corruption reference for having assets beyond known sources of income with an observation of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Panama case that there was a 91-time increase in his wealth over a short span of time. 

He would be indicted tomorrow (September 27) after which formal prosecution process will get started. 

There was tight security in and around the premises of AC and media persons faced difficulties. Initially they were told that they were not allowed but later on were permitted on the condition of depositing their cell phones outside the court.

A U-turn by NAB was witnessed on Monday. NAB prosecutor told the court that they had raided Ishaq Dar's residence for procuring his arrest but he was not found there. On the other hand, in a statement released to the media, NAB spokesperson on September 20 had said that NAB did not raid Dar's residence and it only went to serve him notices to complete the procedural formalities. 

In compliance with previous court order, Dar submitted surety bonds worth one million rupees and two personal guarantees. The court directed him to furnish surety bonds of Rs5 million more to ensure his presence before the court.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) requested the court to issue non-bailable arrest warrants for Dar that AC declined while observing that since the accused has surrendered himself before the court, there is no need for any further action.

Legal counsel for Ishaq Dar requested the court to give 7 days' time before initiation of indictment process. At which AC judge Muhammad Bashir asked, “If we consume 6 months in reading 23 volumes of references, how can we complete the trial within 6 months as directed by the Supreme Court?”

Later legal counsel for Ishaq Dar said that there is no question of plea bargain. “We shall try to use all legal options,” he said. His client appeared before the court respecting the judiciary and in compliance with the court order, he said. As per law, at least 7 days’ time should have been given to them before indictment process, he said.

It may be mentioned here that AC on September 20 had issued bail-able arrest warrants for Ishaq Dar after he did not appear before the court in a corruption reference.

On September 8, NAB had filed three corruption references against Sharif family and one against Ishaq Dar for assets beyond known sources of income, in compliance with the apex Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment dated July 28.

The reference against Dar reveals that NAB has yet to determine role of the National Bank of Pakistan’s president and others in connection with their alleged involvement in aiding and abetting the finance minister for 91-time increase in his assets within a short span.

As per reference the accused were given ample opportunities to explain and provide evidence regarding accumulation of these assets, but they did not.

That request for mutual legal assistance have been forwarded by the JIT and response of same is till awaited, which will be placed before this court, when received from foreign jurisdiction. So under this scenario, this reference may be treated as interim reference.

References were filed after NAB chairman approved these on September 7 in an executive board meeting.

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