Given their (corrupt) record, why is the Sharif family being allowed to skip accountability proceedings?

Published: September 22, 2017
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with his daughter Maryam Nawaz. PHOTO: ONLINE

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with his family, has fled to London. Now, this isn’t surprising news, because everyone’s safe haven seems to be London.

But you see, the Sharif family was discovered to be knee-deep in corruption and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has three corruption cases filed against them. The references filed are related to the Sharif family’s property in London and their two steel mills in Saudi Arabia. Since the filing has been completed, NAB can frame charges of corruption against the accused, thus the Sharif family should be in the country, rather than out of the country.

Normally, under NAB rules and regulations, if the convicted party fails to show up, Section 31A can be invoked. Section 31A states imprisonment for three years if an individual or party does not comply with the NAB or not show up when summoned. Thus, they should not be taken lightly.

But, unfortunately, no such action can be taken against the Sharif family since the Supreme Court had previously set such a punishment aside in case of absentia.

Thus, it is evident that the Sharif family pre-planned their trips to London and will skip all accountability court proceedings. They stated that till a verdict on the review petitions challenging the SC is not filed and decided, they will not feel obligated to attend the proceedings. So far, they have skipped two court proceedings. Judge Muhammad Bashir reissued summons which will bid the Sharif family to appear in court on September 26, 2017. Only time will tell whether the Sharif family will attend this or not. I personally feel they will not because they seem adamant about wanting to avoid the aforementioned accountability cases pending against them.

After hearing three corruption references filed against them on the orders of the apex court, Maryam Nawaz has brazenly stated that her father won’t appear before the accountability court.

Yes, because Nawaz is above the law, right? How is such a powerful institution of accountability being ignored? By doing so, the Sharifs are setting a dangerous precedent. They are putting themselves above the country’s institutions and legal system and are making a mockery out of it.

However, this doesn’t come as a surprise though, since we’re used to the Sharif family behaving in such a manner.

Almost all the corrupt political dynasties that have unfortunately governed our country have aggressively promoted and stood for the concept of immunity from accountability, owing to the ‘mandate of the people’.

But considering the brazen GT Road rally, post the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision and countless statements made by Maryam, it appears that the Sharif family has left the other families behind in their unabashed advocacy of corruption.

None of the others have adopted as appalling a stance as the Sharif family, who want to escape justice with the twisted logic that ‘only the people who elected us can hold us accountable’.

In other words, the Sharif family wants an open license to plunder, so long as they keep winning the elections by hook or by crook. They think they are above the law because the people chose them to lead. Such is their version of democracy.

Be it the extravagant security they enjoy at the expense of the taxpayer’s money or the dubious mega projects initiated with the sole purpose of boosting the family’s bank accounts, they do not want anyone questioning them or their way of ruling.

However, if the relevant authorities such as the SC or a joint investigation team (JIT) dare probe them, they play the ‘conspiracy card’ as proven by Nawaz’s open dissent post his disqualification, during which he uttered the most outrageous remarks against the SC, which is a clear contempt of court.

But the million-dollar question is, why do Pakistanis continuously elect such people to rule our country?

Well, quite frankly, they do not.

In the wake of the recent NA-120 by-election results, it might be difficult not to arrive at such a conclusion, but let’s not forget that when it comes to forming governments and winning elections, the Sharifs are notorious for rigging elections.

Such has been the formula for success for the Sharifs since quite some time now. The most recent instance being that of the NA-120 by-election, where pre-poll rigging was initiated by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) by registering 30,000 bogus votes.

It is also pertinent to mention that out of all the 40 biometric polling stations (where rigging is not possible), PML-N managed to win only one seat, while the remaining 39 were won by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).

Therefore, Kulsoom Nawaz’s victory – a bedridden lady not even present in the country, and who holds no merit other than being the wife of Nawaz and the bhabi (sister-in-law) of Shehbaz Sharif – shouldn’t come as a surprise. The fact that she is politically inexperienced and does not hold the same aptitude as her competitor, Dr Yasmin Rashid, becomes redundant. A people’s election never took place. It was more of a sham.

Thus, the reality is that the majority have rejected the Sharifs and their monarch-based politics.

But only a small cadre of PML-N loyalists, driven by their submissive mind-set, continues to support the Sharifs. They fail to see what’s wrong with their leaders, vigorously support them, and cry hoarse about conspiracies as a response to the conviction by the SC.

Since most ideologues associated with the PML-N have either parted ways or gone silent, PML-N now entirely comprises of politicians for hire. They mostly belong to the ‘baradari’ (communal) system, garnering the support of their respective caste or extended family, and sell their share of their constituency support to the highest bidder.

But with the Sharifs’ inevitable political fall, these opportunists will flock towards a stronger party, thus PML-N’s false delusions of power will be shattered.

However, a harrowing reality for all those who want to see this country purged of the Sharif family’s corrupt rule, is the Sharif family’s capability to manipulate the election results again, just like they did in the 2013 elections. Let’s not forget the four constituencies in which Imran Khan had demanded a recounting of votes.

Out of those four, at least three constituencies witnessed their winning candidates lose due to the recounting. It is not difficult to imagine the extent of rigging that may have taken place to make PML-N win in the rest of constituencies as well. If this continues, it would be irrelevant if the people support the Sharifs or not, since they will keep benefitting from a system that allows them to steer the results in their favour every time.

If we sincerely want to get rid of the corrupt political family, we need to rally for free and fair elections and stress upon the higher authorities to ensure that the rules are implemented at all costs.

However, only an independent and bipartisan election commission can make that happen. Unless we take away the Sharifs’ power, they will keep coming back stronger.

Ahsan Zafeer

Ahsan Zafeer

The author is interested in politics, social issues and sports. He has a passion for writing and believes that issues can be resolved through discussion. He tweets as @AhsanZafeer (twitter.com/AhsanZafeer)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • manzoor(USA)

    A nonsensical writeup. A paper of Trubune,s standard should not publish such childish articles,Recommend

  • Rahul

    Stories of Pakistani politicians venality and incompetence are as old as Pakistan itself. All your big politicians or major parties were created by different military rulers for their ends at different times. Recommend

  • sterry

    Forgot that Musharraf and Zardari’s safe havens are in the UAE or that Imran Khan and his kids have their safe haven in London? That’s also where Tyrian White, Imran’s daughter from his affair with Sita White lives since Imran Khan didn’t attend the paternity court case in the US and the judgment is recorded against him. You seem to think that court cases against the Sharifs show corruption but you don’t know how the courts are part of the establishment that worked hard to dredge up dirt only to make due with a silly indictment of not declaring income from his son? Maybe the people of Pakistan know more than you since they can’t be hood winked by bought off judges or a NAB that is taking orders from someone else instead of being honest. What you call corrupt rule has given Pakistan the best economy in the Muslim world. My guess is you have your own political take on things but you should have some understanding to respect the vote of the majority which stands behind progress and development in Pakistan that the Sharifs have given. That’s why NA 120 is no surprise to me.Recommend

  • ThePrincekhan999

    They Are Not Allowed To Skip They Simply Ran Away Because They Know They Are
    Guilty And Have Been Caught Red Handed.

    Even Corrupt Journalists and Media Outlets Cannot Save ThemRecommend

  • Abdul moiz

    They wouldn’t have a (corrupt) record, if they weren’t being allowed to skip accountability proceedings
    Would they ?Recommend

  • Ahsan Zafeer

    Concentrate on ur rulers Modi and yogi adityaRecommend

  • Parvez

    This came across more like a rant….you seemed to be unburdening yourself and to be honest I really don’t blame you because people’s feelings are incensed by the conduct of our so called democratically elected political leaders. Just yesterday the Senate allowed the very same Nawaz Sharif to hold his office as head of the PML-N, shown that the Assemblies are there to safeguard only their own interests…the people and the country really don’t matter.
    The question of whether Nawaz and family will come back to face the accountability courts still has to be decided by them…..we have to wait and see.Recommend

  • Zubair Khan

    “But the million-dollar question is, why do Pakistanis continuously elect such people to rule our country?”
    It is not a million dollar but a very simple question with a very simple answer, we as nation since long have lost our direction and aim why Pakistan came in to being. Recently new female president was inaugurated in Singapore. Just listen the speech made by the PM of the country. Many decades passed to the freedom of that country but hats off to PM who repeated all the basic goals for which Singapore came in to being. Also view how strongly he was sticking to the core moral values set for his country. Now compare Pakistani rulers. Almost each has forgotten why Pakistan was created. Any one who rules Pakistan either by vote or by force takes it to further lower level. Recently conducted election campaign of N-120 was also based on allegations and hatred against each other. Even victory speech was full of allegations and doubts either about persons or institutions. It is said nations get leaders according to their competence and capabilities so are we getting. Currently no visionary and real leader is in pipe line. Wait and pray. God may send some one who can lead and guide this nation for which it was blessed the great Pakistan.Recommend

  • khalid saeed

    you seem to be obsessed of Imran phobia. Can you for a second stay focussed on the Shareef family and ask yourself who in the history of Pakistan have ever dared to attack the SC? Who in the history of Pakistan started buying the conscience of corrupt MPA through Change Manga venture? Who in the history of Pakistan has made each citizen under foreign debts of one lakh rupees? And you still call it best economy. I am not expert in economy but it is not a rocket science to understand the burden of foreign debts, the best economist (Ishaq Dar who appear to be close relative of Shareef) has imposed on each citizen including the new born. Family dynasty has no place if true democracy is implemented in Pakistan.Recommend

  • khalid saeed

    Keeping in view the track record of Shareef´s I reckon that they will make mockery of both legal system and democracy through their die hard ministers, who, by the way, will disappear from the scene when NS truly will need them. Army and SC must ensure that those who have looted Pakistan are brought to justice and this should happen across the board.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Pakistani Resident are the nation of sit home and comment also The nation only talk never implement any thing .All my life I only sees a statement nothing implements .been USA resident and UK citizen I see in both country on corruption first person ousted his/her position and frozen his account and Assets and in USA they arrest publicly and with Cuff in his hand what is the point of ousted ex prime minister still running the show of Pakistan and his family and not single penny recovered Pakistan reputation is bad in international community on top of that The ex prime minister corrupt and ousted living in the same flat with his family openly and current prime minister of Pakistan visit him there and take dictation on Pakistan expense is that Accountability ? or jokeRecommend

  • Honest Truth

    Well-articulated, and fact-based post! Almost surprised it got published in this environment when the so-called pillars and their components are competing against one another for sucking upRecommend

  • Honest Truth

    “They stated that till a verdict on the review petitions challenging the SC is not filed and decided, they will not feel obligated to attend the proceedings.” The content is sub-par, totally biased, and is Grammatically poor!” M The correct way of uttering the aforementioned sentence would be: [They stated that till a verdict on the review petitions challenging the SC is filed and decided, they will not feel obligated to attend the proceedings.]Recommend

  • Patwari

    Seems you are an ardent supporter of the Sharif Mafia. Nothing fazes you.
    With fake figures and facts.
    Just take Malaysia’s economy. Way way ahead of Land of the Pure.
    Part of the Asian Tigers. Should we go into Emirates economy? Qatar’s
    economy? Bahrain’s economy? [not oil based] They are all Muslim countries.
    You are so brazen you are calling the Supreme Court judges corrupt. You
    claim they are helping dredge up dirt on Sharifs.
    Not long ago the Sharifs were after ex President Musharraf. With all kind of trumped up charges.Including treason. Musharraf is a soldier that fought in
    3 wars to defend Pakistan.
    Now, it’s the Sharifs turn. They get a taste of their own medicine. How far
    the mighty have fallen. How low.
    And could be, it is you who owes the Sharifs, favors. To be writing your rant.Recommend

  • Sane

    Unable to understand as why Sharifs are not handcuffed and kept in police or judicial custody like other accused criminals. They enjoy all privileges like a free citizen even enjoying govt. facilities and protocols despite being one of the top criminals of this country.Recommend

  • Sane

    Can any ordinary criminal can run? If run his/her family members are arrested. Why exception in case of Sharifs. What is this mockery?!!Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Corruption is a hero and name of Power today only a corrupt ousted Prime minister is wellcome and front news of Pakistan paper for Cirruption as corruption is not bad thing instead it is a Good quality for Pakistan ResidentRecommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    TEn million -dollar Answer for you from land of dollars in God we trust and our God is money. Also Allah says jisay tum hoo waisay tum per hukmaran musalat kiya jian gaa.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Pakistani resident good at if and but and blaming others .NA120 election just proved what an Pakistani can do any thing for money accountability. The question is the resident of Pakistan why vote corrupt politicians in power ?Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    ON USA dollar Bill the Heading is IN god we trust and for Pakistani resident it means Our God is Money and can do any thing for money We vote Corrupt politicians in power for money and then drum beating day night corruption and corruption how hypocrite is that?Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Pakistani Mind set put things on other and talk and blame others 3 times an corrupt Nawaz sheriff elected Prime minister how ? because resident of Pakistan vote his party in Power for money .youtube is full of there family corruption and Pakistani resident vote them in power just know NA120 what happened ? The nation of Pakistan is corrupt they think corruption is not bad thing so they elect corrupt politicians for money.Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    Every Pakistani Know every thing especially Conspiracy Theories .The question is why Pakistani resident vote an corrupt politician in power again and again for money ?Recommend

  • Hassan Mirza

    PROVEN corrupt an Nawaz Sheriff and family openly running Pakistan have Protocol staying in Punjab house on GOVT of Pakistan expense shows only one thing which is in Pakistan corruption is not bad thing instead it is Good thing once need to do corruption and that is why today Pakistan is world 13th world most corrupt nation on the world and nobody respect or value any thing in international community.Recommend

  • http://kasampk.me/ Zeeshan Shani

    Go Nawaz GoRecommend

  • Sane

    Fully agreed.Recommend

  • sterry

    I don’t rely on fake facts but you can always look up the Economist predictions on how Pakistan’s economy was poised for great stuff. Most Pakistanis just want the situation to stay on track and improve.

    http://www.indiatvnews.com/business/india-pakistan-to-be-world-s-fastest-growing-muslim-economy-in-2017-report-364569

    I really don’t care whether Nawaz Sharif shares the same fate as Musharraf. You are right that Sharif deserves to fall because he chose Musharraf as army chief over more senior generals and sure enough that coward Musharraf took over the government and dragged the country down in his 10 years of incompetent rule. Maybe when the courts are all done, Nawaz and Muisharraf can both share the same room!Recommend

  • layla hai

    The weightage of votes should not be equal. This just doesn’t fit the model of our society. Most people who vote usually are uneducated, don’t even know enough to make decision about the country. Votes are cast based on personal preferrence rather than crtically thinking which candidate deserves to lead the country. Many of the elected parties have no qualification, no elegance, no eloquence to represent Pakistan internationally. Voting for such candidates proves time and again that poor people of Pakistan thriving on bare subsistence yet lack the necessary vision to elect the future leader. How can the vote of an educated visionary mindset personality be equal to an utterly impoverished, deprived of critical thinking personality? Democracy has failed in our system. It is Kingship in the name of democracy.Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    yap ahsan nice conclusion… i like what i read our youth is making sense and is sensing correct path, its not about ik or sc or jit its about Pakistan, no one should be above law the way to correct everything is to get an honest person as PM and get army work as they should, the honest leader must make all the institutions free of political influence and should have all the support of parliment, the democracy should stay and just imagine 1st year of that Pakistan we stop corrution of about rs 1 trillian and stop money laundering of the same amount … we also collect more tax and get more investment , we spend more on agriculture, equipments, research in biology, pscyhology, engineering, software and IT
    we spend money and time on our kids our next generation, we set free from businessmen, if a person cannot pay tax he cannot work in Pakistan… naya Pakistan inshaAllahRecommend