Pakistani anti-corruption body arrests son-in-law of ousted PM Sharif

A vehicle carrying Mohammad Safdar, son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, arrives at an accountability court in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, October 9, 2017. (AP)
Updated 09 October 2017
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Pakistani anti-corruption body arrests son-in-law of ousted PM Sharif

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The son-in-law of ousted Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif was arrested at Islamabad airport on Monday by Pakistan’s anti-corruption body on his return from London, officials said, a rare instance of a powerful Pakistani politician being detained.
Muhammad Safdar, a lawmaker married to Sharif’s daughter and heir-apparent Maryam, was arrested after he failed to appear at previous National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court hearings about corruption allegations stemming from a probe into the Sharif family wealth.
The Sharifs have denied any wrongdoing and have labeled the corruption proceedings against them as politically motivated. Two of Nawaz’s sons are also due to appear before the NAB court, along with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Nawaz was disqualified by the Supreme Court in July for not declaring a source of income that he disputes receiving. Pakistan’s top court also ordered a wide-ranging NAB investigation and trial into Sharif family members.
The Supreme Court specified that the trial be concluded within six months by NAB, which has in the past been derided as toothless because rich and powerful politicians were seldom convicted.
Safdar, who was arrested soon after midnight, was expected to be released after his NAB court appearance with Maryam this morning.
Television footage showed some supporters from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) trying to stop the car from leaving the airport, including some who lay down in front of it. A senior PML-N official urged them to give way.
Khawaja Saad Rafique, a minister in the PML-N Cabinet, said on Twitter no resistance was made to Safdar’s arrest, even though the party had “serious reservations” about the judicial process.
Sharif’s disqualification stems from the Panama Papers leaks in 2016 that appeared to show that his daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.
The Supreme Court initially declined to dismiss Nawaz but ordered an investigation into his family’s wealth. After the probe, it disqualified him and ordered a NAB investigation and trial into the family.
Some senior PML-N officials, including Maryam, have hinted that elements of Pakistan’s powerful military had a hidden hand in the Supreme Court disqualification that forced Nawaz to resign. The army denied playing a role.
The case against the Sharifs has gripped Pakistan, with analysts expecting the negative newsflow from the hearings to hurt PML-N in the run-up to the next general elections, likely in mid-2018.


British boat rescues migrants trying to cross Channel

Updated 40 min 20 sec ago
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British boat rescues migrants trying to cross Channel

  • British border officials have picked up 34 people who were trying to cross the English Channel in a small boat
  • The Home Office said the passengers are thought to be migrants and their nationalities were not known yet

LONDON: A British boat rescued 34 migrants crossing the Channel aboard a small motorised boat on Monday, Britain's interior ministry said.
"Today Border Force responded to an incident in the Channel involving a small boat containing 34 people," the ministry said in a statement.
"The group were brought to Dover and have been transferred to immigration officials for interview," it added, saying that men, women and children were on board and that three men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
French authorities earlier said that "a fishing boat gave the alarm shortly after 8:00 am (0700 GMT)" after spotting the boat off the tip of northern France.
French navy, police and customs launched a helicopter, a tug boat and three fast vessels, while sea rescue services also tried to rescue the migrants.
By the time they reached the migrants' location, however, "they had crossed over to the English side" of the Channel where they were picked up by a British vessel, said the regional authority in northern France.
Two British Border Force cutters and a coastal patrol vessel were involved in the rescue, according to UK authorities.
Some 500 people -- most of them over the last two months of 2018 -- attempted to cross the Channel to Britain last year, compared with just 13 known attempts in 2017.
French interior ministry figures show 276 people successfully reached British waters last year.
London in December dispatched a navy ship to help coastguard boats watch over the 21 miles (33 kilometres) of sea that separate France and Britain at its narrowest point.
France also responded by announcing broader surveillance measures in early January.
The number of Channel crossings was just a tiny fraction of the 55,756 successful attempts made across the Mediterranean to Spain that were recorded by the UN's refugee agency in 2018.