Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and her husband Capt. (rtd) Safdar appeared in the accountability court on Monday.
Nawaz and Capt. Safdar arrived in Pakistan this morning. In London, Maryam in a press conference had said that “this is not a trial but revenge” and that she is coming to Pakistan to “test the justice system of Pakistan”.
Capt. Safdar, after landing at Islamabad International Airport told reporters that they arrived in Pakistan to appear in front of the court today, as per the advice of their lawyers. He was taken into custody by NAB officials since non-bailable arrest warrants were issued for him on previous hearing after he did not attend the hearing that had been set.
The PML-N workers and leaders attacked the vehicles of NAB officials which brought Nawaz’s son-in-law to the NAB court. During the hearing, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, MNA Islamabad, submitted a surety bond of Rs. 5 million on behalf of Maryam Nawaz. Legal experts have questioned why a sitting minister is submitting surety bonds for an accused, how does this affect the impartiality of the proceedings?
It is not clear whether Maryam Nawaz will be repaying him or he is doing out of his own goodwill. The huge number of minsters and party-workers present on court premises and shouting party slogans were also seen as coercing and putting pressure on the NAB judge and officials which is against tenants of law. It was for this very raucousness that in earlier court hearings of Nawaz Sharif, the judge had banned non-necessary personnel from entering court premises.
Khwaja Haris, the lawyer of ex-premier argued that Nawaz Sharif must be granted permanent exemption from appearing before the court. The court rejected the plea. Moreover, Capt. Safdar was granted a bail while Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were declared proclaimed offenders for not appearing before the court despite being issued non-bailable arrest warrants on 2nd October.
Legal experts argue that the Sharif family has devised a strategy in which they individually appear before the accountability courts on separate dates. However, if all accused are not present in the court simultaneously than all the prerequisites of an indictment will not be completed, hence, forcing the court to split the one case of corruption against all concerned into many separate cases.
This will weaken the prosecution’s ability to defend the case, meanwhile, enhancing defense ability to poke holes in the case. Nawaz Sharif has left the country without taking permission from the court, hence making a mockery of the accountability process. Media pundits postulate that he came to Pakistan on 25 September, not to appear before the court, but to ensure the passage of Election Act 2017 from the parliament and taking over the command of ruling party.
There was a demand by NAB that non-bailable arrest warrants be issued for Nawaz Sharif on which the court has reserved judgment. If the family, intend to play games with the accountability process, analysts have asked that he should have been put on the ECL and his daughter and her husband should now certainly be put on the ECL to ensure that they participate in the legal process.
Surprisingly, Capt Safdar has been granted bail after his appearance. Legal experts questioned that how bail was granted to a person who was issued with non-bailable arrest warrants only in the previous hearing.
For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the powerful political class has been brought under the fold of accountability. Judiciary is seen to be functioning independently, while the establishment is apolitical. However, in order to ensure a legal and fair process of accountability takes place, political gimmickry by the Sharif family in order to sabotage the accountability process must be ended.
It is now interesting to see if the elite of this country will be nabbed by NAB?