Pak court grants pre-arrest bail to PML-N VP Maryam Nawaz in illegal land acquisition case

Lahore, Mar 24 (PTI) A Pakistani court on Wednesday granted pre-arrest bail to Maryam Nawaz, daughter of deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in an illegal land acquisition case till April 12.

The Lahore High Court stopped the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting Maryam, Vice President of the main Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and granted her bail till April 12.

It also directed her to deposit surety bonds worth 1 million Pakistani rupees (USD 6330).

The NAB is probing 47-year-old Maryam for 148 kanals (18.5 acres) of land that she allegedly purchased in Lahore illegally using official resources and for money laundering in connection with the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case.

In the money laundering investigation, she has been on bail since November 2019. The anti-graft body had also moved the Lahore High Court seeking cancellation of her bail following which the court issued her a notice for April 7.

The NAB has accused Maryam of committing money laundering through investments of variable heavy amounts being the main shareholder of Chaudhry Sugar Mills. It said she was involved in money laundering with the help of some foreigners during the period of 1992-93 when her father was the prime minister.

The NAB has summoned her on Friday in both the cases. The PML-N and Maryam expressed fear that NAB would arrest her in the land case.

PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif has directed all party lawmakers from Punjab province to accompany his daughter from her Jati Umra Raiwind residence to the NAB office in Lahore on Friday to express solidarity with her.

Following the PML-N’s decision to gather maximum party leaders and workers outside the NAB provincial headquarters on Friday, the bureau has sought foolproof security from Rangers and police.

The NAB had summoned Maryam in August last year, but clashes between PML-N workers and police broke out outside its Lahore headquarters upon her arrival to record a statement in an investigation against her.

The NAB said there are reports its building may come under attack from political workers and others on the occasion of Maryam’s appearance before the bureau on Friday.

The government has approved deploying of the Rangers and police to protect the NAB building and has also declared the area as “red zone”.

Talking to the media outside the court on Wednesday, Maryam said the days of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government are numbered and that is why the “puppet premier” is using NAB against her.

It is for the first time in the country’s history that the area having the anti-graft body’s building is declared red zone that shows the defeat of the government and the powers that be, she said.

She said she earlier faced jail but this time would not let the government put her behind bar easily in fake cases.

Maryam was sentenced to seven years in jail in July 2018 in connection with the case that pertains to the ownership of the Sharif family’s posh apartments at Avenfield House in London. The sentence was, however, suspended by the Islamabad High Court.