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Avenfield reference: Safdar refuses to produce witnesses in his defence

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Islamabad, May 30: PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law, retired Capt Muhammad Safdar, on Wednesday decided against producing any witnesses in his defence in an accountability trial, informing the court that had made this decision because the prosecution had failed to establish a case against him.

Safdar was recording his statement in the Avenfield reference under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC). He is named in the reference alongside Nawaz and Maryam, and his brothers-in-law, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz.

A day earlier, he had admitted that he was a signatory of the trust deeds of offshore companies Nielsen and Nescoll while his wife Maryam was a trustee.

Safdar, like Maryam had during her testimony, claimed that he had been victimised and dragged into the case to exert pressure on Nawaz.

He claimed that the joint investigation team’s (JIT) decision to include him in the references despite not being named in Supreme Court’s April 20 judgement showed that the JIT’s “intentions are malafide”.

When asked to disclose the source of the funds with which Maryam had bought the Avenfield apartments, he denied that Maryam was the owner of the said property.

Safdar also told the court about his military career, right from his joining of the Pakistan Army to his posting as Nawaz’s security officer.

He then drew upon the events of the 1990s to try and prove how his father-in-law had been ‘wronged’ multiple times, first in 1993 by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and then in 1999 by former chief of army staff Gen Pervez Musharraf.

“Nawaz Sharif wisely saved the region from an imminent war but he could not save his own regime,” Safdar said, referring to the Kargil Operation which had sparked a tiff between Nawaz and Musharraf which eventually escalated into the infamous coup.

Safdar skipped most of the questions posed to him, deeming them “irrelevant”. In the end, when asked if he wanted to add something, he simply claimed to be innocent.

Following the conclusion of Safdar’s testimony, the accountability court summoned JIT head Wajid Zia to appear tomorrow when he will be cross-questioned by Nawaz’s counsel in connection with the reference concerning Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

Meanwhile, the court will hear final arguments on the Avenfield reference on June 5.

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