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NAB exempted Nawaz Sharif-Maryam Nawaz from appearing before court

16 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Accepting separate pleas filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, seeking exemption from personal appearance, the accountability court on Wednesday granted them exemption for a week and for a month, respectively.

Judge Muhammad Bashir, who resumed hearing on three graft references against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and her husband Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar, granted a week’s exemption to Nawaz Sharif from personal appearance, which would lapse on November 27. The court granted a month’s exemption to Maryam from personal appearance. Both of them had sought exemption on the account of the health of Kulsoom Nawaz, who was undergoing treatment of lymphoma at a medical facility in London. The court declared sons of ousted premier Hussain and Hasan Nawaz “proclaimed offenders” due to their continuous absence.

The court initiated the formal trial of all the three accused by recording the statements of first two prosecution witnesses produced by the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) prosecutor.

These witnesses included Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan’s (SECP) Joint Registrar Sidra Mansoor and Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Inland Revenue Department official Jahangir Ahmad.

In her statement in the Avenfield reference, Sidra Mansoor stated that she had appeared before a NAB investigator in Lahore on August 18, and provided him the financial record of the Sharif family.

To a court query, she stated that according to the audit reports of Hudaibiya Paper Mills, a balance of Rs 4,946,000 remained in the account from 2000 to 2005.

She stated that the record submitted by NAB in the court carried her signatures and thumb impressions, adding that some audit reports of various businesses of the Sharif family were also made part of the record submitted by her.

In his statement, Jahangir Ahmad stated that all the tax records provided by NAB to the court were given by the FBR.

In his cross-examination, Khawaja Haris Ahmad, senior counsel for Nawaz Sharif, pointed out that the audit reports of SECP provided to NAB were photocopies, carrying no official seal of the commission and signatures of the officials concerned, thus their authenticity was a question mark.

Sidra Mansoor contended that as per law these photocopies were provided to the SECP by the company of the Sharif family. She also stated that she could provide the original documents as well.

To a query by Khawaja Haris that had Nawaz Sharif ever been director or shareholder in Hudaibiya Paper Mills, Sidra Mansoor got confused and later replied in negative.

The testimony of Sidra Mansoor has been completed, whereas the court did not close the testimony of Jahangir Ahmad, directing him to again appear on the next hearing for cross-examination. He is a prosecution witness in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference as well.

Khawaja Haris told the court to note that the documents presented by both the witnesses had neither been prepared by them nor were in their custody. Besides, these documents did not carry the signatures of both the witnesses, he said.

Trying to establish that both the witnesses and the documents submitted by them were irrelevant, Khawaja Haris pleaded the court to scrutinise the documents to assess their authenticity.

Adjourning the hearing till November 22, the court directed NAB to produce four more witnesses on next hearing to get their statements recorded.

During the hearing, the court also told Amjad Pervez, counsel for Nawaz Sharif’s children, that Hussain and Hasan Nawaz were declared as proclaimed offenders after November 11, the last deadline given to both the brothers to ensure their appearance before the court.

The court further noted that now both of them would be mentioned in every court order as proclaimed offenders.

In his plea seeking a week’s exemption from personal appearance from November 20 to November 27, Nawaz Sharif stated that he had to leave for the UK on account of his wife’s next chemotherapy. He stated that he could not abandon his wife in these testing times, with whom he had spent 40 years of his life.

When the court asked who would represent Sharif in his absence, Khawaja Haris stated that his pleader (legal representative) Zaafir Khan would represent him in his absence.

In her plea seeking permanent exemption from personal appearance, Maryam also stated that she had to look after her ailing mother. Besides, she said she also had to look after her daughter. She also quoted ‘security’ issues as also the reason for exemption from personal appearance.

To a court query, her counsel stated that Jahangir Jadoon would represent her as pleader during her absence. She, however, stated that she would ensure her availability whenever the court summoned her.

The NAB prosecutors, however, opposed both the pleas, contending that both the applicants had no ailment, thus should not be exempted from personal appearance.

Earlier, Nawaz Sharif along with Maryam and Safdar reached the accountability court amid strict security measures, where a number of cabinet members, PML-N leaders and workers were present to welcome him.

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