FORMER RULING FAMILY FACES FRESH ‘CORRUPTION’ QUESTIONS
THE son-in-law of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif was arrested at Islamabad airport on Monday (9) by Pakistan’s anti-corruption body on his return from London, officials said.
Muhammad Safdar, a lawmaker married to Sharif’s daughter and heir-apparent Maryam, was arrested after he failed to appear at previous National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court hearings about corruption allegations stemming from a probe into the Sharif family’s wealth.
The Sharifs have denied any wrongdoing and have labelled the corruption proceedings politically motivated. Two of Nawaz’s sons are also due to appear before the NAB court, along with finance minister Ishaq Dar.
Sharif was disqualified from the premiership by the supreme court in July for not declaring a source of income that he disputes receiving. Pakistan’s top court also ordered a wide-ranging NAB investigation and trial into Sharif’s family members.
The supreme court specified that the trial be concluded within six months by NAB, which has in the past been derided as toothless because rich and powerful politicians were seldom convicted.
Television footage showed some supporters from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) trying to stop Safdar’s car from leaving the airport. A senior PML-N official urged them to give way.
Khawaja Saad Rafique, a minister in the PML-N cabinet, said no resistance was made to Safdar’s arrest, though the party had “serious reservations” about the judicial process.
Sharif’s disqualification stems from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 that appeared to show that his daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.
The supreme court initially declined to dismiss Nawaz but ordered an investigation into his family’s wealth. After the probe it disqualified him and ordered a NAB investigation and trial into the family.
Some senior PML-N officials, including Maryam, have hinted that elements of Pakistan’s powerful military had a hidden hand in the supreme court disqualification that forced Nawaz to resign. The army denied playing a role.