ISLAMABAD - An accountability court Thursday issued bailable arrest warrants for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in two corruption references, filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The court also issued a notice to his personal guarantor in a third corruption reference after Nawaz did not turn up before the court after the expiry of 15-day exemption from personal appearance.

Former PM’s daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar, accused in the Avenfield reference, reached the court of Islamabad Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir amid tight security.

The court issued arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif in two references — Flagship Investment and Al-Azizia Steel Mills/Hill Metal Establishment.

The judge also issued a notice to his guarantor in Avenfield properties reference by rejecting the former prime minister’s pleas seeking exemption from personal appearance.

On October 9, the court had accepted his application seeking exemption from personal appearance for 15 days which expired on October 24.

During the hearing, defence counsel Khawaja Haris filed three applications seeking the exemption from court appearance for another 15 days for Nawaz saying that the wife of his client was in critical condition.

Haris said that the former premier was in Saudi Arabia and intended to travel back to Pakistan but he had to go back to London due to the medical condition of his wife.

In the applications, Nawaz Sharif said that his wife was undergoing treatment initially for lymphoma but subsequently had to undergo blood transfusion for carcinoma and that was the reason he could not return to Pakistan.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar strongly opposed Sharif’s exemption plea saying that the court has earlier given 15 days exemption to the applicant which expired on October 24.

He said that if an accused does not appear before the court, under section 92 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), his warrants of arrest must be issued.

The judge reprimanded NAB Prosecutor Afzal Qureshi for behaving rowdily and stopped the proceedings for 10 minutes after hearing arguments of both the prosecution and the defence counsel.

After the short break, the court turned down Nawaz Sharif’s exemption applications. The judge said that the former prime minister was being given last chance to appear in the court on November 3 and if he failed to attend the hearing, then non-bailable arrest warrants will be issued for him.

The court did not record the statements of two prosecution witnesses — Sidra Mansoor of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Jahangir Ahmad of the Federal Board of Revenue — as they could not testify their statements in the absence of the accused, Nawaz Sharif.

NAB prosecutor chastised

During argumentation on Nawaz’s exemption pleas, NAB Prosecutor Afzal Qureshi in a loud voice said that Nawaz Sharif’s counsel was submitting applications just to prolong the case. He added that the accused was not taking this court seriously.

At this, the accountability court judge asked the NAB prosecutor to tone down while arguing before the court, adding that “this is a courtroom and not a public gathering [that] you are addressing”.

The judge also stopped the NAB prosecutor from commenting over Nawaz’s exemption pleas and advised him to raise only legal points instead.

The judge added that “you are not supposed to give comment. You are not addressing a gathering of the people. Your arms and ammunition consist of books, precedents and law journals and you better utilise the same. I am following the law and procedure. A judge is always neutral. He has no association with either A or B party and he has to follow the law.”

Kalsoom’s ailment

In his exemption pleas that were rejected by the court, Nawaz said that he was all set to travel back to Pakistan when he came to know that his wife was admitted to hospital on an emergency basis and she was administered with blood transfusion.

“The petitioner’s wife needs full support during the treatment,” read the application filed by his counsel. “Under these circumstances, the petitioner is unable to appear before the court and one Zaafir Khan Tareen advocate has undertaken to appear before the court on his behalf as a pleader.”

The former prime minister had also attached with the exemption application, medical reports of his wife Kalsoom Nawaz that were generated from Leaders in Oncology Care (LOC) healthcare UK hospital.

In the medical report, Consultant Medical Oncologist Dr Daniel Krell diagnosed metastatic small cell carcinoma on unknown primary and high-grade neuroendocrine tumor and Merkel cell tumor. As per the medical report, Kalsoom Nawaz “will undergo the blood transfusion”.

 

Court issues bailable warrants for Nawaz