Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan from UK to face trial
Islamabad, Nov 2: Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned home from London to face trial before an anti-graft court tomorrow in the corruption cases spiralling from the Panama Papers scandal.
Sharif, 67, had to step down as the chief of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) after he was disqualified as the prime minister by the Supreme Court on July 28 in the scandal. He went to London last month to be with his ailing wife Kulsoom Nawaz who is battling throat cancer.
Sharif was forced to come back to Pakistan after a bailable arrest warrant was issued by the Accountability Court on October 26 due to his non-appearance in three corruption cases related to the Panama Papers scandal. The court would resume the hearing tomorrow. Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retired) Mohmmad Safdar have been summoned.
State-run PTV footage showed Sharif stepping out of a Pakistan International Airline plane after it landed at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad. He was received by senior leaders of ruling PML-N and held a brief consultation with the party leaders at the VIP lounge of the airport.
Later, he left in his private vehicle for Punjab House in Islamabad, where he was received by supporters and party workers. He is expected to hold extensive consultations throughout the day about court cases, political situation and party matters. Sharif told media in London that he was going back to Pakistan to face "bogus cases" when he should be with his wife. "These are bogus cases but I am going back to face them," he said.
Maryam and Safdar have already been indicted in corruption cases filed against them by the country's anti- corruption body National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on the Supreme Court's instruction in the Panama Papers case.
Earlier, Accountability Court issued bailable arrest warrant against Sharif after he failed to appear in the court in three corruption cases. Three cases were registered by NAB on September 8 against Sharif, his children and son-in-law in the Accountability Court in Islamabad, following a verdict by the Supreme Court. He was indicted in absence in three cases. Maryam and Safdar have been indicted in one case with him, while the court is proceeding separately against his two sons Husain and Hasan who are co-accused in three cases.
The court during the hearing on October 9 decided to separate the trial of his sons from Sharif and his daughter and son-in-law. The cases are based on July 28 disqualification verdict of the Supreme Court and to launch three corruption cases against him, his family, and one case against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. The political future of Sharif, who leads the country's most powerful political family and the ruling PML-N party, has been hanging in balance since then. If convicted, Sharif can be jailed. Sharif's family alleges that the cases are politically motivated.