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Relief given to Nawaz Sharif due to NAB’s refusal to arrest him: IHC

Tooba Shakir 7 months ago 0 1

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Former prime minister and graft convict Nawaz Sharif leaves after appearing before the Islamabad High Court on October 24, 2023. — AFP
Former prime minister and graft convict Nawaz Sharif leaves after appearing before the Islamabad High Court on October 24, 2023. — AFP
  • IHC approved protective bail; restored appeals against conviction.
  • “NAB said it didn’t want to arrest Nawaz Sharif”: court’s verdict.
  • Nawaz declared proclaimed offender in Avenfield, Al-Azizia cases.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday said that the relief given to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was due to the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) refusal to arrest the ex-premier.

The IHC on October 19 approved a two-day protective bail of the former prime minister in Al-Azizia and Avenfield references which was followed up by its October 26 verdict to restore Nawaz’s appeals against conviction by accountability courts in the two cases and granting him a bail.

In its detailed verdict issued today, the court highlighted that it restored the former premier’s application against conviction in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases “due to explicit and unambiguous stance” taken by the anti-graft body of not objecting to the petitioner’s plea.

“Since the learned prosecutor general, NAB did not oppose the applications for the restoration/resurrection of the appeals, the applications are allowed and the appeals are restored with all legal consequences,” read the order by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.

“These applications were allowed and the appeals were resurrected. They are to be heard and decided by this Court on merits,” the court added.

Separately, the same divisional bench also issued a 16-page verdict on the issue of approving the two-day protective bail of the former prime minister in the said cases.

“The operation of the interim relief given to the petitioner was extended for two days […] It ought to be borne in mind that these orders were passed after a clear, unequivocal and emphatic position was taken on behalf of NAB that such protection be afforded to the petitioner [Nawaz Sharif].”

“The Prosecutor General, NAB was equally clear, unequivocal, and emphatic in his submission […] that NAB has no intention to arrest the petitioner [Nawaz Sharif],” read the detailed verdict.

Nawaz — who left for London in November 2019 for medical treatment following the Lahore High Court’s approval — returned to Pakistan on October 21 after a four-year self-imposed exile and has since managed to get notable relief on various legal fronts including Avenfield, Al-Azizia, and Toshakhana cases.

Apart from the restoration of his appeals by the IHC, the Punjab government also suspended the PML-N supremo’s conviction in the Al-Azizia reference.

Previously, Nawaz also had his arrest warrant suspended by an accountability court in the Toshakhana case after the NAB prosecutor didn’t raise any objections to the former prime minister’s plea against his arrest warrants in the said case.

Political opponents most notably Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have criticised the allegedly “undue relief” given to the PML-N supremo.

It is to be noted that the ousted prime minister was handed down a 10-year jail sentence in the Avenfield properties corruption reference for owning assets beyond known income in July 2018 and a year for not cooperating with the anit-graft watchdog — both of the sentences were to be served concurrently.

In the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, Nawaz was sentenced to seven years in jail on December 24, 2018, and then taken to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail from where he was shifted to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail the next day.

He was released from jail in March 2019 and travelled to London for medical treatment in November 2019 after permission from the Lahore High Court. Later, the IHC declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases in December 2020.

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