Court appearance: Sharif summons aides to London

Source:  Tribune Published in Politics on Monday, October 16, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has summoned an important meeting of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in London to discuss his possible return to the country ahead of the next hearing of corruption references filed against his family in connection with a Supreme Court-mandated inquiry in the Panamagate case about offshore wealth that resulted in his disqualification.

In addition, Sharif will be updated regarding the findings of a committee on the issue of changing the text of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (finality of the prophethood) avowal in the Elections Bill 2017, it was learnt.

The meeting, summoned by Sharif as the PML-N President, is expected in the ongoing week. The leaders called to the huddle include PML-N Chairman and Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, federal ministers Khawaja Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Mushahidullah Khan, Ahsan Iqbal and Zahid Hamid and Senator Pervaiz Rashid, The Express Tribune has learnt. Zafarul Haq is the head of the three-member committee formed by Sharif on the issue of Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath, while Mushahidullah and Ahsan Iqbal are its members.

NAB references: Oct 9 set for Sharif’s indictment

According to sources, Sharif would confer with his aides on his possible return to Pakistan ahead of the scheduled hearing in an accountability court of the references against him and his children on October 19. The former PM is expected to be indicted during the court proceedings. The sources said Sharif was willing to return to the country to appear before the court on the date but his sons Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were unwilling to land in Pakistan to face the trial. The ex-premier wanted them to show up at the court, the party sources said.

On October 13, Sharif, his sons, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd) Mohammed Safdar were to be indicted by the accountability court but rowdy lawyers from the PML-N disrupted the proceedings. Earlier, the court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants of Safdar, Hassan and Hussain and bailable warrants of Maryam.

PML-N insiders said even though Sharif was expected to arrive in Pakistan to appear before the court, the plan of his sons, who were settled in London, was not clear. His daughter and son-in-law are in Pakistan.

Nawaz likely to return to Pakistan tonight

Regarding the issue of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat oath that was restored in its original form after a controversy, the sources said the committee would discuss its findings with the former premier and seek his approval before making them public.

The Express Tribune approached Zafarul Haq but he declined to share the details of the committee’s findings, saying he was too busy to speak.

Some reports were doing rounds that the law minister had been summoned to London in connection with the issue, but a party leader said Sharif had already hinted that it had been caused by a ‘clerical’ mistake and the matter had been settled after the government got adopted a bill to restore the draft to its original shape.

Media reports on Sunday quoted Sharif as having said in London that Khatm-e-Nabuwwat avowal was an integral part of the Constitution as well as the faith of every Muslim and “no one can even think of changing it. PML-N has nothing to do with the negativity attached to the matter.” He said the misunderstanding related to the issue took place due to a clerical mistake which was corrected by Parliament.

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s very own Macbeth

“The issue is now settled,” Sharif said, adding that his government had taken steps to ensure the freedom and protection of the rights of minorities as laid down in the Constitution. “The founder of the nation (Quaid-e-Azam) guaranteed this freedom to the minorities and the PML-N government is determined to follow the vision of our great leader. Muslim League is the party that created Pakistan under the Quaid’s leadership.”

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Written by Sardar Sikander

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