Ousted Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his two sons today failed to appear before the top anti-graft body, which wanted to interrogate them over money laundering and corruption charges revealed by the Panama Papers.
On July 28, a five-member Supreme Court bench disqualified Sharif from continuing in his office for possessing a work permit at the firm of his son in the UAE.
The court also ordered the NAB to investigate money laundering and other corruption charges against Sharif, his children, son-in-law Safdar and federal finance minister Ishaq Dar, a relative of Sharif, in light of the report of the Joint Investigation Team.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) following a Supreme Court order had issued summons to Sharif and his sons – Hussain and Hasan – to interrogate them at its Lahore office over their offshore properties revealed last year by the Panama Papers leak.
A 10-member NAB team had reached Lahore from Rawalpindi to record the statements of the Sharifs, but they did not turn up before the office closed at 3 pm local time, a NAB official told PTI.
“Sharif and his sons were supposed to join the investigation today here in Lahore office but we are informed by the office of Sharif that he is not coming. No reason has been given to us,” the official said.
He said the NAB would issue second summons to them in two weeks.
A leader close to the Sharif family denied receiving any summons. “Nawaz Sharif and his sons had not yet received the NAB summons. Sharif will only decide whether or not to appear before the NAB after receiving the summons,” Senator Pervaiz Rashid told PTI.
Sharif wrote a letter to NAB, saying he would join its investigation after the Supreme Court’s decision on his review petition against its July 28 verdict which disqualified him.
“Nawaz Sharif has written to the NAB that he will join its investigation once his plea to grant stay to investigation against him in the Panama Papers case is decided by the apex court,” Sharif’s political secretary Senator Dr Aasif Karmani told PTI.
He dispelled the impression that Sharif was not cooperating with the NAB.
“Nawaz Sharif never evaded accountability. He had gone through accountability on several occasions in the past and this NAB investigation is nothing new for him,” he said.
The 67-year-old three-time prime minister has denied any wrongdoing. Last week, Sharif held a defiant roadshow with thousands of supporters from Islamabad to Lahore to project his political strength after the Supreme Court verdict.
One of the three applications Sharif filed in the Supreme Court calls for staying “further implementation of the judgement till a decision on the review petition is taken”.
The apex court is likely to take up Sharif’s review petition early next month after judges return from vacation.
Sharif has expressed serious concerns on the NAB investigation, saying it was unprecedented for a Supreme Court judge to supervise NAB proceedings against him and his family members to get a “desired result”.
“Sharif has also been advised by some of his party members to boycott the NAB investigations. He would not get any relief as it has already been decided to grill him,” the PML-N leader said on the condition of anonymity.
The NAB said it will issue second summons to the Sharifs if they do not join the investigation after the first summons.
The third and final summons will be issued next month if there is no compliance even after the second summons, it said.
Sharif, his sons, daughter Maryam, son-in-law Safdar and relatives Ishaq Dar and Tariq Shafi – face several cases, including over the Al-Azizia Steel Mills, the Hill Metal Establishment and Hudabiya Papers Mills.