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Sharif kin arrested


HEIR-APPARENT: Maryam Nawaz
HEIR-APPARENT: Maryam Nawaz

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.