ISLAMABAD: The accountability court, hearing National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) references, on Monday set October 9 as the date for indictment of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and issued arrest warrants for his children.
Sharif appeared before Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir amid Rangers deployment at the courthouse. Several Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwarts, including Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, journalists, members of the legal fraternity and litigants were not allowed to enter the premises
The judge, in his order, noted that “the atmosphere around the court was peaceful”, and that the Rangers were deployed for security purposes, adding the “deployment of Rangers is highly appreciatable [sic] action of Government.”
While fixing October 9 as the date for framing of charges against Sharif, the court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the former premier’s sons, Hassan and Hussain, and his son-in-law Capt (retired) Muhammad Safdar. However, the court issued bailable warrants of arrest for his daughter Maryam.
“File to come up for attendance of accused/further proceedings including framing of charge/proceedings u/s 512 Cr.P.C on 09-10-17,” read the court order.
Talking to reporters in the courtroom after the hearing, Judge Bashir said that he did not pass any order, asking the Rangers to control security arrangements at the Federal Judicial Complex.
The reporters and lawyers complained to the judge they had to park their vehicles at least a mile away from the premises and cross at least three pickets, but they were still barred from attending the proceedings. The judge quipped he himself arrives at the court this way.
The judge directed the registrar to conduct a meeting for counsels and court reporters’ entry into the courtroom. At one point, the judge said he himself would come to the main gate to receive journalists on the next date of hearing, stressing that there was reason to bar them from entering the court.
During the interaction, the judge revealed that bailable arrest warrants were issued for Maryam Nawaz as she was a “lady” and “the counsel had also assured” that she intended to appear before the court on the next hearing.
He added that “if any hurdle in execution of warrant is faced by him [investigation officer], he can take assistance of other government agencies and other legal remedies.” In addition, the court directed the defense counsel and prosecutors to be ready so that case could be decided as early as possible.
Responding to a question, the judge told reporters NAB argued about bringing the suspects to Pakistan through Interpol, as well as separating the trial on Sharif from other accused but no written order had been passed.
On the last hearing on September 26, the court had issued bailable arrest warrants for Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Safdar in the references pertaining to Avenfield Flats, Flagship Investment Limited and 15 other companies as well as Al-Azizia Company Limited and Hill Metals Establishment.