ISLAMABAD   -   As the PML-N is expecting conviction of party Quaid Nawaz Sharif today in NAB cases, the former prime minister yesterday met with his younger brother to devise their future course of action.

Tight security arrangements were being adopted at and around the NAB court where a large gathering of party activists is expected to hear and react to the today’s verdict in Flagship and Al-Azizia corruption references.

In the detailed one-on-one meeting on Sunday, the two brothers discussed the NAB cases and investigations against them as well as other PML-N leaders.

It was agreed that in case of Nawaz Sharif’s conviction, party affairs will be taken care of by an advisory committee of senior party leaders as Shehbaz remains in NAB custody de jure.

The top PML-N duo decided to give the ruling party tough time within and without the Parliament in collaboration of the other opposition parties but refrain from being part of any move to dislodge the PTI government.

The meeting, which was second interaction between the two in last one week, took place at the official residence of Shehbaz at Ministers’ Enclave which has been declared sub-jail by the authorities.

Shehbaz Sharif, who is the Leader of Opposition in National Assembly as well as the president of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, was brought to Islamabad on production orders of Speaker Asad Qasir to attend National Assembly session.

He was to be taken back to Lahore jail on Friday but it was decided to keep him in Islamabad as he was under medical examination and a special board was to study his medical reports.

In Sunday’s meeting, Nawaz and Shehbaz discussed cooperation with other opposition parties about which latter took his elder brother into confidence about his meetings with senior leaders of Pakistan People’s Party and other opposition parties.

Sources aware of the deliberations of the meeting said the top party leaders have decided that PML-N would give tough time to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf both inside and outside the Parliament.

But, the sources added, the PML-N leadership has decided not launch or become part of any movement to bring down the government. The opposition party would rather give the government time to collapse by itself due to their follies and wrong policies, they said.

It was also decided that PML-N, being the biggest opposition party, would take along rest of the opposition parties in dealing with the legislative business and other matters pertaining to the functioning of the Parliament. But the cooperation with PPP and other opposition parties would be on issue-to-issue basis.

Party sources informed that PML-N Parliamentarians would be directed to ensure their presence in federal capital today (Monday) in the wake of possible conviction of party Quaid Nawaz Sharif in the corruption references.

Although the party leaders did not confirm mobilising the party workers and activists, sources in the party confirmed that party would be mobilising workers and leaders would be gathering outside the NAB court today (Monday) to show solidarity with the party Quaid.

A TV report however claimed that the PML-N has decided only to mobilise the leaders and party activists would not be asked to gather outside the accountability court.

But some PML-N leaders The Nation talked to said they were expecting conviction of Nawaz Sharif in both the cases and they have planned a show of power in front of NAB court.

They said both the party leaders as well as the workers have been asked to reach the court in the morning to show solidarity with their leadership and condemn what they termed as the political victimisation of their leaders in the name of accountability.

On the other hand, security in the federal capital has been beefed up around the NAB court and only people with special passes would be allowed to enter the court premises while PML-N workers and activists would be restricted to even come closer to the area.

Around 1,000 personnel would be deployed for security of the court premises and special arrangements would be in place in case of Nawaz Sharif’s conviction as he would be required to be taken into custody and moved to Adiala Jail.

Official sources said that Rangers were also being put on alert and they could be called in aid to the civil law enforcement agencies.



Maryam breaks silence

Agencies add:

The daughter of PML-N Quaid, Maryam Nawaz Sharif has vowed to play role as a party worker to raise voice for justice for her father. She expressed her ambitions in a meeting with Nawaz in Lahore, before he left for Islamabad.

“I will fight as a sepoy to ensure justice to my father. The decisions for isolating Nawaz Sharif from people are based on baseless hypotheses,” she was quoted as saying.

Maryam Nawaz had been keeping mum after her mother’s death and her release from Adiala jail on bail. This silence on her part gave rise to speculations that it was result of some deal with the establishment.


Trial of Sharif family

Under the Supreme Court directions made in the Panama leaks case, the accountability trial of Sharif family members commenced on September 14, 2017.

After four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three corruption cases made against the former ruling family, the accountability court announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference on July 6.

Ex-Premier Nawaz, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar were sentenced to 11 years, eight years and one year in jail respectively.


Today’s verdict

Court is set to announce today verdicts in the rest of the two corruption references involving Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment Limited.

Maryam and Safdar were accused in the Avenfield reference only, but Nawaz and his sons – Hussain and Hasan – are accused in all three references.

The two brothers, based abroad, have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.

In the case about UK-based Flagship Investment Limited, the charge against the family is that Hassan Nawaz, the former premier’s youngest son, set up an investment firm in 2001, with an office registered in the United Kingdom. At the time he was 25-years-old.

Nawaz has never accepted any connection with his son’s business, although the Bureau alleges that his name was listed as chairman of the board, further adding that Hasan was under the guardianship of his father till 1995.

Earlier this month, during a hearing, the NAB stated that Nawaz Sharif even received an amount of 0.78 million AED from the investment firm that he claims to have no stake in.

The accountability court had to determine how and from where did Hasan get the funds to set up the investment firm?

Al-Azizia Steel Mills Hussain Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister’s elder son, claims that he received a sum of $5.4 million from his grandfather to establish the steel conglomerate in Saudi Arabia. The payment was made by a Qatari royal on the request of the elder Sharif. Thereafter, scrap machinery was transported from their Ahli Steel Mills in Dubai to Jeddah to establish Al-Azizia in 2001.

The JIT constituted to investigate the graft allegations insist that the real owner of the mills was Nawaz Sharif, and it was being operated by his son on his behalf. Hussain was 29-years-old at the time. The JIT also held that Nawaz Sharif received 97 per cent profit as ‘gifts’ from Hill Metals Establishment, another company established by Hussain Nawaz Sharif in 2005, in Saudi Arabia.

Of the amount, Nawaz Sharif transferred 77 per cent to his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. (Maryam is not accused in this reference). Here as well, the NAB claims that since Sharif received a large profit from Hussain’s companies, he is the real owner and not his son. However, during the proceedings the NAB could not substantiate its claim through documentary evidences and instead placed the burden of proof on the accused.