ISLAMABAD: The accountability court on Monday exempted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from personal appearance for another three days as they expressed inability to attend the proceedings because of the critical health condition of Begum Kulsoom.
Lead defence counsel Khawaja Haris argued on the exemption plea on behalf of Mr Sharif and Maryam seeking a seven-day exemption from personal appearance.
Take a look: Analysis: What next for Nawaz Sharif?
The court, however, granted a three-day exemption and told the counsel that after the expiry of this period, a fresh application supported by the up-to-date medical certificate should be moved for further exemption.
In the application, Mr Haris said that the ex-premier had planned his return on June 23 as it was expected that by this date his wife Begum Kulsoom would have sufficiently recovered so as to be able to communicate with the applicant and “he would thereby be in a position to sufficiently put her mind at rest as well as his own before returning to Pakistan”.
However, he said, the continued critical condition of his wife had prevented him from returning to Pakistan.
Accountability judge directs defence counsel to produce a fresh medical report of Kulsoom Nawaz
The medical diagnoses revealed that Begum Kulsoom had “cardiogenic shock with multiple organ failure, including respiratory and renal [kidney] failure”. However, the medical report prepared on June 22 stated that there was steady improvement over the past three days and doctors had “successfully discontinued the inhaled nitric oxide and the renal replacement therapy”.
It said that there was no evidence of infection and she was off antibiotics and there was no longer a re-feeding situation.
In his arguments, NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said that “life of patient is under threat” was not stated in the application or medical report and could not be relied upon because it didn’t carry doctor’s signature and only stated “checked but not signed to speed dispatch”. He said exemption should not be granted.
Subsequently, Judge Mohammad Bashir, while granting the three-day exemption from personal appearance, directed Mr Haris to produce a fresh medical report.
During the course of final arguments, Mr Haris said that the prosecution had failed to ascertain on what date the Avenfield apartments were purchased, what their actual price was and who purchased them from whom.
He argued that the prosecution had to prove Nawaz Sharif’s known sources of income when the properties were purchased because only then a comparison could be drawn and one could reach the conclusion whether the properties were beyond his known sources of income or not.
“The prosecution does not even know the exact date when the Avenfield properties were purchased,” Mr Haris said. He said that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) could not substantiate any relation of Mr Sharif with the Avenfield properties.
Mr Haris said JIT head Wajid Zia had never claimed that Mr Sharif’s children were dependent or benamidars. It had been a consistent stance that the children were dependent of their grandfather, Mian Mohammad Sharif, who even determined their monthly pocket money, he said.
He argued that NAB did not implicate Tariq Shafi, Abdullah Kaid Ahli and many other persons involved in the agreements of 1978 and 1980 as witness or accused in the reference despite admitting their role in the establishment and sale of Gulf Steel Mill, Ahli Steel Mills, respectively, and investment with the Qatari royal family.
The counsel argued that the JIT and NAB’s use of the term ‘Sharif family’ was vague in nature and the prosecution had to be specific as the former prime minister was facing a criminal charge. He said that naming or using “Sharif family” as a whole held no value until individuals in question were assigned specific roles.
“The prosecution has to be specific on who counts in the Sharif family and who has what role in it,” Advocate Haris said, adding that Mr Sharif was not involved in the Al-Towfeek case or the London properties nor was he involved in any of the transactions related to the Avenfield apartments.
Mr Haris would continue his arguments on Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018