An Islamabad accountability court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on account of his absence from the gift deposit case. The court asked the Foreign Office to implement the warrant by working with the Pakistan Consulate in the United Kingdom.
Sharif along with ex-president Asif Ali Zardari and fellow former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani were accused of not depositing official gifts from foreign states into the “Toshakhana” i.e. the Pakistan treasury. Allegedly, the leaders kept the gifts for themselves or their families, using their powers as Head of State to evade arrest or suspicion. The rules state, however, that in order to to do so, they must pay a concessional amount to the national exchequer.
The proceedings of the case occurred on Thursday, however Sharif did not appear, currently in London due to a sickness. Zardari did not appear either. His lawyer appeared and plead with the court not to summon him on account of his health due to the coronavirus situation, emphasizing the fact that Zardari, unlike Sharif, was in Pakistan only. Gilani appeared, but, similar to Gilani, filed an application for a permanent exemption from appearance due to the COVID-19 situation. The court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant only for Sharif, who has been absent throughout the proceedings of the case.
A recent picture of Sharif enjoying his stay in London at a roadside cafe in London spurred massive debate on whether or not he was actually sick a few weeks ago, and may have influenced the court’s decision.