Search form

Last updated: 4 min 14 sec ago

You are here


Sharif returns to Pakistan, scotching opposition speculation

Nawaz Sharif
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Islamabad from London on Monday, laying to rest speculation that he had fled the country to evade an ongoing corruption trial against him and his family.
Sharif had been abroad with his children tending to his wife, who is recovering from throat cancer treatment.
Sen. Dr. Asif Kirmani, special assistant to Sharif on political affairs, told reporters that Sharif will appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Tuesday regarding the graft cases, which accuse him of mass corruption, tax evasion and concealment of assets.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominated Sharif’s wife Kulsoom Nawaz as candidate for NA-120 Lahore District by-election, after the seat was left vacant by Sharif’s judicial ouster.
The party won the much-anticipated by-election after a rigorous campaign by Sharif’s daughter in her mother’s absence.
Pakistan’s accountability court is set to conduct a hearing into three cases against Sharif, and one against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, as filed by the NAB.
Dar returned from London on Sunday, accompanying Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to face the courts. But in a twist on Friday, Pakistan’s Senate passed an election bill for 2017 dropping a clause that barred Sharif from leading his PML-N party.
“Knowing what he faces is NOT accountability, the man decides to return. It is not about this person anymore. It is the battle of 200 million,” tweeted Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz.
“It takes great courage and valor to be willing to pay the price for challenging what needs to be changed. Not everyone can do that.”
The Sharifs fear they may not get a fair trial, and have spoken of a conspiracy against them. But political analyst Zahid Hussain said the family had ample time to satisfy the Supreme Court before its final verdict.
The cases against the Sharifs stem from the Panama Papers leak in 2016 from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which suggest the family owns millions of dollars’ worth of property and companies worldwide via offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.
“I won’t say it’s a conspiracy, because that means the Supreme Court was party to some kind of conspiracy with either the security agencies or somebody else. That’s just not correct,” Hussain told Arab News.