Nawaz Sharif appears before accountability court

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ousted premier Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday for the first time appeared before an accountability court here to face the corruption charges filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau in the Panama Papers scandal.

Sharif, who returned to Pakistan on Monday, reached the court located in the judicial complex this morning.

During the brief hearing, 67-year-old Sharif informed Judge Muhammad Bashir that his wife was unwell and he needed to attend her, following which he was allowed to leave.

The appearance was just a formality to ensure that the accused was ready to face the trial. Sharif stayed at the court for about 10 minutes.
He was accompanied by his lawyer Khawaja Harris who would represent him as a counsel in the corruption cases.

The next hearing has not been set as yet.

The court, which is hearing the corruption cases against the Sharif family, last week summoned Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law capt (retd) Safdar to appear before it on September 26. It is pertinent to mention that the Sharif family had skipped a court hearing on September 19.

Hundreds of Sharif’s supporters, including Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, lawyers, lawmakers and several ministers were present in the court premises. Heavy security arrangement were made around the judicial complex.

Earlier, Sharif left the Punjab House in Islamabad at about 8.30 am to appear before the court. It took him about 15 minutes to reach the court.

More than 35 vehicles were part of Sharif’s convoy which safely reached Punjab House after his appearance in the court.

Sharif is expected to hold some important meetings with aides and to address media in the evening, according PML-N sources.

Sharif was in London from August 31 to be with his ailing wife Kulsoom who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer.

He decided to return to Pakistan after consultations with senior party leaders including his younger brother and Punjab province Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in London.

Sharif stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him on July 28 from continuing in his office for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children.

The NAB has filed three cases of corruption and money laundering against Sharif, his sons — Hassan and Hussain, daughter — Maryam, son-in-law — Safdar, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the Accountability Court in Islamabad and Rawalpindi recently.

The anti-graft body last week froze the bank accounts and seized properties of Sharif and his family members to put pressure on them to appear before the court.

Sharif’s family has alleged that the cases are politically motivated. Rest of his family is still in London.