RAWALPINDI - The son-in-law of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar surrendered to the law at a power show in the garrison city on Sunday, two days after his conviction in Avenfield Apartments Reference.
The PML-N leader was sentenced to one year in jail on Friday by the Islamabad Accountability Court for abetting in the crime of his father-in-law Nawaz Sharif and wife Maryam Nawaz. He did not appear in the court on the decision day and later went underground.
Safdar yesterday surrendered to DSP headquarters of Rawalpindi Police at the main party office on Sixth Road. He was eventually handed over to the National Accountability Bureau, though he reached NAB Rawalpindi office in Melody Islamabad in his own vehicle.
Safdar appeared in front of Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi in the afternoon, atop a double-cabin vehicle and accompanying dozens of party workers.
As he called upon PML-N leaders and workers to reach Liaquat Bagh to show support, the gathering swelled – with hundreds of supporters pouring into the streets.
Earlier in the day, in an audio message sent to journalists by the PML-N media cell, Safdar said he would surrender himself to the authorities today (Sunday) as “honour demands it”. He also said he had also been told by the party leadership to do so.
The pre-arrest drama continued for almost six hours as the convict used workers as a shield against the NAB team which had reached the spot to arrest him.
Supporters surrounding his vehicle chanted slogans “Dekho, dekho, kon aya? Sher aya, sher aya” (look who is here, the lion is here), “Respect the vote”, and “carry on Nawaz Sharif, we are with you”.
Safdar briefly addressed the media gathered at the scene. He was accompanied by PML-N leaders Chaudhry Tanveer, Malik Abrar, Shakeel Awan, Daniyal Chaudhry, Shaikh Arsalan as he headed towards the party office on 6th Road in Rawalpindi.
“Today we have to decide how the country will be run,” Safdar told the media. “I am surrendering myself in order to set a foundation for democracy.”
As the convict took round of the city, NAB authorities faced difficulty in getting to him as his car was surrounded by the supporters.
The NAB team, comprising six vehicles, contacted the police and requested a large contingent of cops to help deal with the crowd. They however wanted to wait until Safdar surrendered so as to avoid any sort of reaction or resistance.
A NAB official and DSP Raja Taifoor were seen sitting in Safdar’s vehicle as he finally surrendered to authorities and was taken to NAB office where his medical was conducted.
In a short statement issued on Sunday, NAB said the convict should have surrendered himself immediately after his conviction. It said action will be taken against those who were involved in hindering his arrest.
NAB sources said, the PML-N leader will be presented before the Accountability Court along with his medical certificate and from there he will be transferred to Adiyala Jail.
Security was tightened around the NAB office where a large number of law-enforcement personnel were deployed. A road in front of Lal Masjid in Islamabad was partially blocked and traffic was diverted to alternate routes.
The accountability court on Friday also sentenced Nawaz Sharif to 10 years and Maryam to seven years in jail and imposed heavy fine on them in the Avenfield reference. Nawaz and Maryam are currently in London but had vowed to return to Pakistan on July 13.
Talking to media in London, Maryam Nawaz on Sunday responded to arrest of his spouse by terming him Nawaz Sharif’s soldier. Asked about her and Nawaz Sharif’s return, she said they would land in Pakistan at 6:15PM on Friday.
Reacting to the way he surrendered to authorities, PTI Chairperson Imran Khan said Safdar courted the arrest as if he had conquered Kashmir. Calling him shameless, he said Safdar must bear in mind that he has been convicted on corruption charges.