LAHORE/Islamabad - Ousted prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has deferred his plan to return to Pakistan for the time being.

He was scheduled to land in Islamabad on October 24 from Saudi Arabia to attend the court hearing on October 26.

His elder son Hussain Nawaz said Tuesday that his father would be coming to Pakistan on October 25, but the plan had to be changed yet again without assigning any reason. Maryam Nawaz, however, posted a tweet yesterday that her mother was not well.

Nawaz Sharif’s return ticket shows he will now be returning on 7th January next year, but party sources said the former prime minister’s return plan could be revised any time depending on the health condition of his spouse.

Currently, Nawaz Sharif is in Saudi Arabia where he performed Umrah along with his mother. He is expected to fly back to London any time soon to see his ailing wife there. 

Kalsoom Nawaz is undergoing chemotherapy at London after three surgeries since August this year.

Little effect on

corruption trial

The eleventh hour delay in Nawaz Sharif’s return plan would have little effect on the trial of corruption references against him and other family members in Accountability Court Islamabad as the court would carry forward the trial by initiating recording of statements of prosecution witnesses in these cases.

Accountability Court Islamabad will take up the corruption references against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt(r) Mohammad Safdar today (Thursday).

Interestingly, till late Wednesday night senior people in the party were confirming Nawaz Sharif’s return but some insiders close to the Sharif family informed that he (Nawaz Sharif) was still in Madinah and may extend his visit for another couple of days.

On Tuesday night, following reports by some media channels that after sudden worsening of Begum Kalsoom’s condition and her shifting to hospital, Nawaz would be rushing back to London, his son Hassan Nawaz came on media and confirmed that his father was returning home as per schedule.

But once again his return plan was altered and nobody in the party was aware of his exact travel schedule even the senior party leaders were not aware in this connection.

A federal cabinet member, who is also holding a key portfolio in the party hierarchy, was not in picture and he simply said that he might extend his stay in Saudi Arabia or he could even go back to London owing to the deteriorating health of his spouse.

Legal experts said Nawaz’s absence would have little effect on the trial of corruption references against him in accountability court as he was already indicted in all the three references through his representative and now the court would go for recording statements of prosecution witnesses against him.

The court on previous date of hearing had directed the prosecution to present the witnesses against Nawaz Sharif and other family members and hopefully would initiate the exercise when it would take up these cases today(Thursday).

In another development, though Islamabad High Court has accepted the writ petition of Nawaz Sharif against his indictment and clubbing of all the three corruption references against the family but the court stopped short of granting stay against the trial court proceedings and directed the state to present the charge-sheet and other relevant documents before the court in first week of November.

So according to legal experts, the court would carry forward the trial against Sharif and family members even in his absence.

However, the court could take serious notice of his continuous avoiding of the court proceedings and issue him with final notice to ensure his presence on next date of hearing or could even issue his arrest warrants by forfeiting his surety bond.

Sources in the ruling PML-N informed that defence counsel in the case Kh. Haris would move an application seeking exemption for his client Nawaz Sharif from personal appearance in the cases arguing that his spouse was in serious condition. Previously, such requests on part of Nawaz Sharif were not accepted. Hence it was likely that the court would not accept the plea and could confine to one-time exemption from personal appearance with the direction to ensure his presence on next date of hearing.

Legal experts said that court was under tremendous pressure in the light of the apex court direction to wrap up the trial in six months.

The court had already separated the cases of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, co-accused in these cases with Nawaz Sharif, for not appearing before the court despite repeated court notices.

The court had also initiated the process of declaring them proclaimed offender and directed for seizure of properties and assets in their names in the country. Once they would be declared proclaimed offender the court would declare them proclaimed offender as well.