LONDON: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been advised by each and every key aide against cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in proceedings of references filed against him, his children and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, but he has decided to return to Pakistan to appear before the NAB court.
The former premier, who was in London for the cancer treatment of his wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, was advised by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others that he should come to Pakistan after the treatment of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz.
Ahead of making his decision to return to Pakistan on Sunday, which took Pakistani media and political classes by storm, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif held two rounds of talks in which the return strategy was discussed. It’s understood that both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif agreed that the advice of lawyers should be listened to and that Nawaz Sharif should appear before the NAB court and “seek exemption”. It’s also understood that the Sharif family has decided the children of the former premier will stay away from the proceedings.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said yesterday that Nawaz Sharif has always cooperated with the courts and he was going to Pakistan in the same spirit.
Credible sources have told Geo.tv that Nawaz Sharif has been advised by his colleagues – including all key ministers – that appearing before the NAB courts will only give legitimacy to the “revenge campaign in the name of accountability”. That’s the same view he expressed ahead of leaving his house for Pakistan – he said he doesn’t hope to get justice as what has happened in Supreme Court to him wasn’t accountability but political revenge.
Sources told that Zahid Hamid did brief the former premier about the legal procedures involved and the various scenarios but even he was of the view that there is no hope that Sharif will get a “fair trial”.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has told Sharif that he doesn’t need to “rush and come to Pakistan when he pleases as there is no urgency”.
The credible source said Hamid explained legal point of view “which is his responsibility as a professional lawmaker but he is at the same time aware and has seen the fraud unfolding in the name of accountability and biased disqualification of Nawaz Sharif on political grounds, in violation of Pakistan’s own tax and electoral laws”.
PM Abbasi told Sharif in their first meeting last week, before the former left for America to take part in the UN session, that the whole party will stand united and behind him for any decision he takes about the NAB and other matters.
The source said that in the same meeting a member stressed that NAB was “under extreme pressure to run the cases against Sharifs to execute revenge”.
The PM told Sharif, said the source, that his supporters widely were of the view, and so is the view of a large section of Pakistani public, that he has been wronged and failed to get a fair trial at the Supreme Court.
Same views have been expressed to Nawaz Sharif by Khawaja Asif and other ministers and senior PML-N leaders, who have been speaking to him over the phone from Pakistan.
“Nawaz Sharif has not expressed his views on whether he will cooperate with the NAB trial or not; he has only been sounding out his aides and ministers. He will make a final decision and will announce it too but he has made no secret that he doesn’t expect fair trial from the NAB courts because of the way the SC has appointed a monitoring judge and set deadline to end the whole matter,” briefed the source.
He said that Nawaz Sharif has been advised by his colleagues that this itself is the “perversion of justice that the superior court judge monitors junior judges and gives direction”.
The source said Sharif was advised by several aides during the Panama Papers case that “the whole case has been engineered and brought to the SC to get him ousted from the office under the guise of accountability and the PM went along in the belief that he will get clean chit from the court because his hands are clean and then he was thrown out on the basis of Iqama just because the court found nothing in Panama case, no corruption”.
He said Sharif now accepts that he made a mistake by giving legitimacy to a shambolic political plot against him “and that experience will be guiding factor for him whether or not to cooperate with the NAB”.
The source said former prime minister has received overwhelming support from within the party and “even from many people in other parties who have made contact with him and told him that he has not been given justice in the Supreme Court and that while there should have been accountability of him and others, there should be no place for throwing out politicians in the name of accountability to engineer politics”.
The source said the ousted premier is aware that the NAB courts will only be a rubber stamp on “the script that has been handed over to them and there is no doubt left in anyone’s mind that it would be enforcing further revenge on Nawaz Sharif and his family in the name of fair trial”.
The National Accountability Bureau has also issued notification, barring the former prime minister from selling his movable and immovable properties.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif, who arrived here last week to be with her parents, has publicly advised her father not to appear before the NAB courts.
Nawaz Sharif “should not be a part of political and personal victimisation in the garb of accountability” nor should he appear before accountability courts, his daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, said in a tweet.
The source revealed that attempts are underway to discredit Sharif family and a “judicial cover” is being used to achieve this objective “for which there is overwhelming opposition in the PML-N rank and file”.
Maryam Nawaz also said yesterday that Nawaz Sharif was going to Pakistan despite knowing that he will not get fair hearing under the current circumstances.
“Knowing what he faces is NOT accountability, the man decides to return. It’s not about his person anymore, it is the battle of 200 million (people),” she said in a tweet.