Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law arrested, gets bail with Maryam Nawaz
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Muhammad Safdar and his wife Maryam Nawaz appeared before an anti-graft court in the Panama Papers case.world Updated: Oct 09, 2017 19:48 IST
Former premier Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Muhammad Safdar was arrested by Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog on his return to the country from the UK though he was granted bail along with his wife on Monday.
Safdar, a former army captain and the husband of Maryam Nawaz, widely seen as Sharif’s political heir, was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) when he landed at the international airport in Rawalpindi early on Monday. Maryam was with him but she was not arrested.
Maryam and Safdar had been in London to care for her mother Kulsoom Nawaz, who is being treated for throat cancer. A NAB court had issued a non-bailable warrant for Safdar as he had failed to appear before the judge for several hearings of a case registered against members of the Sharif family.
The NAB was ordered to take action against the Sharif family, including the ousted premier’s sons Hassan and Hussain, by the Supreme Court when it disqualified Sharif on July 28. Sharif and his children have dismissed the graft charges levelled against them.
Later in the day, Safdar and Maryam were granted bail by the NAB court in the Panama Papers case after they appeared separately before judge Muhammad Bashir in Islamabad. Safdar told the media he and his wife had returned to Pakistan on the advice of their lawyers.
Sharif and his sons were absent during the hearing as they are still in London to attend to Kulsoom. Sharif attended the two previous hearings but flew to London last week.
The court set the next hearing for October 13, according to court officials.
Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris asked the judge to exempt the PML-N party chief from all hearings. However, the judge rejected the request and said he would indict the accused even in their absence at the next hearing.
The judge also started the process for declaring Sharif’s sons “proclaimed offenders” or fugitives as they have failed to appear before him so far. The court also decided to separate the trial of Hussain and Hassan from that of Sharif and his daughter and son-in-law.
Maryam, 43, appeared in the court for the first time and both she and her husband were ordered to submit surety bonds of Rs 5 million each.
The judge barred Safdar from leaving Pakistan without its permission but rejected the NAB’s request to confiscate his passport.
Maryam criticised the arrest of her husband and said he was taken into custody even though he had come back to face the case.”Those who want to appear of their free will are arrested from the airport, but we are not afraid of it,” she said.
Referring to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan, who has refused to appear in several cases, Maryam said the “absconders are free and hold public meetings”.
She described the charges against the Sharif family as “false allegations with no answers”. She criticised the judges for disqualifying her father in the Panama Papers case.
Sharif was re-elected the president of the ruling PML-N on October 3 and has demanded that those who disqualified him should respect the people’s mandate and democracy.