ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani judge issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday, after he failed to appear in court in the capital, Islamabad, to face corruption charges.
The developments are the latest in an ongoing saga surrounding the disgraced Sharif who was dismissed from office in July by the country’s Supreme court for concealing assets abroad.
Judge Mohammad Bashir also rejected a request from Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris that the former premier be exempted from court appearances in order to remain in London, where his ailing wife is getting medical treatment.
Though Sharif was a no-show, his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, and her husband, Mohammad Safdar — both also charged in the same case as Sharif — were present in the courtroom though Sharif’s two sons, also charged in the same case, were absent. The sons are also in London.
The judge then scheduled the next hearing for Nov. 3. Sharif, who has been indicted in three corruption cases over concealing assets abroad, has skipped several court hearings so far. Under Pakistani law, he can be arrested as soon as he returns from abroad unless he is granted bail before the next hearing.
The 67-year-old Sharif and his family members have criticized the judiciary since he was removed from office on charges stemming from a trove of documents — known as the Panama Papers — that investigators say showed the family held unreported assets overseas.
Sharif and his family have denied any wrongdoing. After leaving the courtroom, Nawaz said her father was being victimized.
Also Thursday, Pakistan’s election commission dropped contempt charges against a top opposition leader, cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan, after he submitted a written apology for making insulting remarks against the commission.
Khan, whose supporters hope to see him as prime minster after the next elections in 2018, angered the commission earlier this year when he declared that it was biased. On Thursday, he told the commission that his criticism was not intended as an insult and that he respects the courts.