An accountability court in Islamabad on Monday suspended the hearing into corruption references filed against members of the Sharif family as it awaits the Islamabad High Court’s decision in connection with a petition filed by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, which seeks the consolidation of the references.
The high court’s decision is expected to be announced in the afternoon today. The hearing at the accountability court will resume after the decision is announced.
Earlier today, Nawaz, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar had arrived at the accountability court after landing at Islamabad airport. The former premier was welcomed at the court by a large number of PML-N workers
The bureau’s prosecution team and three witnesses had also appeared before the court.
As the hearing had begun, Advocate Khawaja Harris, the counsel representing the Sharifs, had requested the court to suspend proceedings till the high court announces its decision.
In turn, the court suspended proceedings till 1pm as the advocate told the bench that the verdict is expected to be announced at that time.
Harris also told the bench that the hearing at the high court is expected to begin at 11:30am.
As the hearing was suspended, Nawaz, Maryam and her husband left for Punjab House. It is uncertain whether they will appear before the court when the proceedings resume.
Clubbing of references
On November 24, the high court had reserved its judgement on the petition seeking clubbing of the references filed against the former premier and his close relatives.
Nawaz’s lawyer had argued before a two-member bench of the high court that similarities had been noted between the references and sought the consolidation of at least two references ─ Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship Investment references.
The lawyer pointed out that the references list the same three individuals as accused and added that six out of 13 witnesses in both references were also the same.
Dar to be declared proclaimed offender
During today’s hearing, the NAB is expected to declare Ishaq Dar a proclaimed offender, as the 10-day period given to the former finance minister to appear before the court in connection with the reference filed against him expires.
The finance minister has repeatedly failed to join the trial into the reference filed against him for allegedly possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.
In a previous hearing of the case, the court had declared Dar an absconder and warned his guarantors of the confiscation of surety bonds worth Rs5 million if the accused did not join trial proceedings.
For some time now, the minister has been in London where he is undergoing medical treatment.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court on July 28 had directed NAB to file references against Nawaz and his children in six weeks in the accountability court and directed the trial court to decide the references within six months.
The Supreme Court also assigned Justice Ijazul Ahsan a supervisory role to monitor the progress of the accountability court proceedings.
NAB had filed three references on Sept 8 against Sharif and his family, and another reference against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The three references against the Sharif family are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment.
The former premier and his sons, Hassan and Hussain, have been named in all three NAB references, while Maryam and husband Safdar have been named only in the Avenfield reference.