LAHORE – Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has obtained arrest warrants of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar Awan, a spokesperson of the bureau said on Saturday.
The PML-N supremo was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison, while Maryam was sentenced to eight years for corrupt practices linked to the family´s purchase of the upscale London flats. Apart from the prison sentence, Nawaz Sharif was given a £8 million fine (Rs1.3 billion), while Maryam was fined £2 million (Rs335 million). Captain (r) Safdar received a one-year prison sentence for abetment.
The court also ordered forfeiture of their property in the Avenfield Apartments, Park Lane, London and imposed £8 million (approx Rs1,292m) fine on Nawaz Sharif and £2 million (approx Rs323m) on Maryam Nawaz.
The three convicts were given one-year jail term, which will run concurrently, for not cooperating with the bureau during the probe into the case. In the light of this verdict, both Maryam and her spouse cannot contest elections, while Sharif has already been disqualified for life by the Supreme Court in Panamagate case.
The former ruling family has rejected the verdict, saying they will file an appeal against the ‘political’ judgment on Monday. Maryam Nawaz also announced to return to the country next Friday.
“Due process will be implied against the court’s decision,” Maryam said from London, where the Sharif family is tending to ailing Kulsoom Nawaz. “The institutions in the UK have already told the Pakistani institutions that no illegality was carried out,” she told reporters.
Meanwhile, a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team has already left for Mansehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to arrest Capt (r) Safdar, the spokesperson said, adding that the caretaker government in the province has also been approached for their assistance in carrying out the arrest.
Earlier today, the court put Safdar’s name on the black list, which means he will be barred from leaving the country.
The NAB spokesperson said that the anti-graft body has also obtained a copy of the detailed verdict, and will ensure its implementation.
He clarified that Nawaz Sharif and his other family members had been convicted for committing corruption. “The offence of assets beyond known sources of income which prima facia come under the preview of NAO 1999 are corruption and corrupt practice,” he added.
The clarification was apparently in response to the presser of Nawaz Sharif following the verdict — during which the ousted premier had referred to some TV reports, which according to him were saying that the court order had mentioned that the prosecution failed to prove the corruption charges against him.
NAB had filed the reference regarding the high-end properties in London, along with two other cases, on the Supreme Court’s directives in the Panamagate verdict that deseated Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister last year.
Also today, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued directives to halt the printing of ballot papers from NA-127 and NA-14, constituencies of Maryam Nawaz and Safdar Awan as they have been barred by the accountability court from contesting the July polls.
Reports in local media suggest authorities at Central Jail Kot Lakhpat Lahore and Adiala Jail Rawalpindi are finalising arrangements for the imprisonment of the former prime minister and his daughter at either of the two prisons following their conviction in Avenfield reference on Friday,.
The Geo News reported citing jail sources that the father-daughter duo are likely to serve their sentences at either Kot Lakhpat or Adiala jail, where they could be classified as ‘B-class’ prisoners if their living quarter is declared to be a ‘sub-jail’.
According to prison regulations, prisoners can be placed in a ‘sub-jail’ if they face a threat to their lives. Such ‘B-class’ prisoners are allowed to wear regular clothes rather than the standard prison uniforms. They can also arrange for their meals to be brought to them from their homes, and can cook themselves as well.
Under Rule 245 of the prison regulations, two prisoners can be placed at the service of a former prime minister. ‘B-class’ prisoners can also have access to TV, air-conditioner, and newspapers with the permission of the interior secretary.