News Analysis |
Accountability court today continued the cross-examination of star witness and head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)—Wajid Zia, in the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references. The incarcerated former Prime Minister Nawa Sharif did not appear in the court today [Thursday]. On Wednesday, the Accountability courts II—judge Mohammad Arshad Malik approved the exemption plea of the jailed former premier for a day. Nawaz is spending a busy day in the Adiala jail—as he met Senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders and family members.
Jail authorities have allotted/ reserved Thursday for visitors to meet members of the house of Nawaz at the Adiala Jail. The Accountability court II Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik resumed the hearing of two remaining corruption references pertaining to Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Flagship investment on Wednesday.
The court is yet to record the statements of star-witness Wajid Zia and the investigation officer in Flagship reference, while, in Al-Azizia reference, Wajid’s cross-examination is continuing and the investigation officer has partially recorded his statement.
Meanwhile, IHC has accepted Khawaja Harris’s application in which he accused the accountability court Judge Malik of tampering with the record. Earlier, he had threatened to leave the case, if this injustice continued. During the cross-examination of Zia, Haris alleged that accountability court judge Arshad Malik had changed the statement of the witness in Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references. He accused that Judge changed the already recorded answer at the behest of the NAB prosecutor.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued the notice to NAB to appear before the court over the allegations of alteration in the statement of Wajid Zia. Moreover, IHC is set to resume hearing the appeals of Sharif family against their July 6 conviction in Avenfield case on September 10.
On August 27, CJP headed a three-judge bench comprising of Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan—which ordered a six-week extension in the deadline for concluding the Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment references. It was the fifth extension, since, the start of the trial against Sharif on September 14, 2017, after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif on July 28, 2017. Currently, the court is running the two references simultaneously, and twin-verdict will be announced in both references.
The court is yet to record the statements of star-witness Wajid Zia and the investigation officer in Flagship reference, while, in Al-Azizia reference, Wajid’s cross-examination is continuing and the investigation officer has partially recorded his statement. After this, accused—Sharif and his sons [who are now absconders] would have to record their statements. And, finally, both the prosecution and defense would argue over the case.
Nawaz’s sons, Hussain and Hasan have been declared proclaimed offenders for not appearing before the court. Both brothers were accused in all the references along with their father. Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court is yet to announce the reserved verdict on the appeals filed by the Sharif against the Avenfield judgment.