Millennium Post

Tainted Sharif and his special trial

It seems that despite being dethroned, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has not given up his habit of making a mockery of his country's judiciary and investigating agencies. And, the strong grip that Sharif still has could be understood from the fact that only last week the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of Pakistan, despite serious allegations of partiality and discrimination by the Opposition parties, merely issued a bailable arrest warrant for him after he didn't appear before the court in person. It may be recalled that the Apex Court of Pakistan had disqualified Sharif in July this year, following a probe into the revelations about his family's wealth in the Panama Papers. The cases relating to several offshore companies – including Avenfield Flats, Al-Azizia Company Limited and 15 other firms set up by the Sharif family, were handed over to the NAB for trial. But, it could not compel Sharif to display any fear of the law and neither did his family bother to take the litigation proceedings seriously, ever since being summoned on September 19. Though Sharif and his daughters appeared twice before the court, his sons failed to show up at all, as has been the Sharif family's trusted prototype to obstruct justice. Sharif had a proper game plan in his mind to dodge the court, who had summoned him to be in person on November 3. He undertook religious pilgrimage and instead of returning, he went to London – to have a proper consultation with his party members there. On the other hand, instead of tightening the noose – the court just indicted Sharif in absentia on graft charges. Even while declaring his sons absconding in cases of misappropriating assets, the NAB court provided VIP treatment to the three-time Pakistan Prime Minister, by not freezing the assets and bank accounts belonging to his family members. Now, the million-dollar question, did the court fail in reopening the Hudabiyya Paper Mills money laundering case against the Sharif's family? Even, turning the eye in the infamous Model Town massacre, in which Sharif's son Shahbaz's role was proved dubious, the NAB court has proved that despite being dethroned Sharif still enjoys out-of-bound immunity from the establishment. Nonetheless, it seems that there is a climate of impunity in Pakistan with regard to enforced disappearances, and the authorities are not sufficiently dedicated to investigating cases of enforced disappearance that will hold the perpetrators accountable. Isn't it the exact time to avoid irreparable damage to the rule of law in Pakistan? The politics in Pakistan has always been mired in corruption while being dominated by the military. The military was also corrupt but it enjoyed impunity and many military officers suspected of corruption escaped punishment. This indictment is a rare instance in Pakistan and the judicial system must be complimented for not bowing to prevailing political pressure and political compulsions from influential circles.

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