An accountability court on Thursday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana reference.

Nawaz, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and former president Asif Ali Zardari were summoned to attend a hearing related to the Toshakhana reference today.

During the hearing, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Prosecutor Muzaffar Abbasi appealed to the court to issue a non-bailable arrest warrant for Nawaz, saying that since he was abroad, advertisements against the PML-N chief can be published in foreign newspapers.

The prosecutor further informed the court that another co-accused in the case, Anwar Majeed, was incarcerated in Karachi's Malir jail for his alleged involvement in other references.

The hearing today was attended by Gilani and suspect Abdul Majid Ghani, while Zardari's application exempting him from appearing before the court today was accepted.

The court, while exempting Zardari from attending proceedings today, ordered that another notice for appearance be sent to the former president.

According to NAB, Zardari and Nawaz received cars from former prime minister Gilani illegally.

Zardari had paid only 15% of the total cost of the cars through fake accounts, according to NAB. He also received the cars as a gift from Libya and the UAE when he was president and used them for his personal use instead of depositing them in the treasury, alleged NAB. 

The anti-graft body further alleged that Abdul Ghani Majeed paid for the vehicles through fake accounts whereas Anwar Majeed made more than Rs20 million through illegal transactions using the Ansari Sugar Mills accounts.

According to reports, Nawaz was not holding any public office in 2008 but was given a vehicle without any justification. NAB says the leaders have been charged with corruption under sub-sections 2, 4, 7 and 12 of Section 9 (A) of the NAB Ordinance.

The Toshakhana (gift depository) gift from any country to the head of the state remains the property of the government unless sold at an open auction. Rules allow officials to retain gifts with a market value of less than Rs10,000 without paying anything.