LAHORE/london - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former first daughter Maryam Nawaz said on Saturday that she will return to Pakistan along with her father Nawaz Sharif on Friday.
On the other hand, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said yesterday it had obtained arrest warrants for Nawaz, Maryam and her husband Capt Muhammad Safdar.
The anti-graft body announced that it will arrest Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz at the airport as soon as they arrive in the country from London.
“NAB has received arrest warrants from the accountability court and started the process of the arrest of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar as per the law in order to implement the judgment in letter and spirit,” the NAB said in a statement on Saturday.
The bureau said it would again ask the Interior Ministry to place the names of the members of the Sharif family who have been sentenced by the accountability court, on the Exit Control List to stop them from leaving Pakistan.
The officials of anti-corruption watchdog also said they had already dispatched a team to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for arrest of Safdar.
The Sharif family members were declared guilty by the Islamabad Accountability Court on Friday in Avenfield Apartments Reference, and sentenced to several years in jail besides imposition of heavy fines.
Interestingly, feeling the heat of strong criticism on social media suggesting that the court ruling was based on assumptions, the anti-corruption watchdog felt forced to also issue a ‘clarification’ on Saturday.
A spokesman for the bureau said the offence of having assets-beyond-means, which prima facie comes under the preview of NAO 1999, essentially involves “corruption and corrupt practices”.
Speaking to media in London, Maryam Nawaz said that consultation was underway over the court decision and the lawyers are looking at the matter from all legal angles. Maryam said the verdict will be challenged in the higher court keeping in view the legal requirements.
When reporters asked Maryam whether she had been informed by her lawyers that they need to surrender themselves within 10 days to get any sort of relief, she said: “We will go back before that (10 days) anyway”.
She also claimed that the NAB is aware that the Avenfield properties cannot be confiscated since no law had been broken in Britain. She said even then if the authorities in Britain were approached, it would work in the Sharifs’ favour as investigations would make things clear.
She added “The institutions in the UK have already told the Pakistani institutions that no illegality was carried out [in the purchase of London flats].”
Maryam urged the masses to set aside [thorough their vote] the verdict against Sharif family on July 25, the date set for the upcoming general elections.
The PML-N supremo was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison for having assets beyond his known sources of income. Maryam was handed down a seven-year jail term for playing a ‘front-man’ for her father and forgery.
Nawaz and her daughter, who are presently in London, were also slapped with £8 million (Rs1.3 billion) and £2 million (Rs335 million) fine.
Captain (r) Safdar, who signed on forged deeds as a witness, received a one-year prison sentence for abetment.
On Saturday, NAB investigation officers were sent to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Lahore to arrest Captain Safdar soon after the authority received the arrest warrants. The NAB team would coordinate with KP government to ensure the high profile arrest.
Political analysts say rigorous punishment for Sharif and his daughter just weeks before the general elections will deal a severe blow to PML-N.
“The majority of voters in Punjab think after the judgment that Nawaz Sharif and his party enjoy no more blessings of the powers-to-be, so they may not vote for the PML-N,” Professor Tahir Malik, political analyst and academic, told Arab News.
He said the perception of a political party matters a lot in Pakistani politics, especially before the general elections. “Now the perception is that Nawaz Sharif’s party is going to lose the upcoming general elections,” he said.
Malik said it would be nothing less than a miracle if Nawaz Sharif and his other party leaders succeed in turning the tide in their favour before the July 25 polls.
“Nawaz Sharif’s party may not win the majority of seats but it can still emerge as a formidable force in the elections, if the leadership succeeds in selling its narrative ‘give respect to vote’ to the people,” he added.
Warrants issued as Sharifs announce Friday return