News Analysis |
The Supreme Court (SC) on Sunday directed the accountability court to conclude the trial of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif within one month. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar rejected the request from Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Harris’s to allow six weeks to conclude the trial. And while giving the third extension, the Apex Court directed the accountability court to wrap up all three references against Nawaz within the stipulated time.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar headed the two-member bench which also includes Justice Ijazul Ahsan. It heard the petition seeking a further extension for the conclusion of trails against the house of Nawaz. The accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir had filed the application seeking the extension in the deadline for concluding proceedings in the corruption cases against Nawaz.
On June 04, he had remarked that he would write a letter to the Supreme Court requesting another extension to complete the trail. Three times PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retired) Safdar are facing the trial with regards to corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after Supreme Court ordered the watchdog in its famous July 28 verdict in Panama Papers case.
Nawaz will continue to pressurize the institutions and will visit the masses across Pakistan seeking some respite from the probable unfavorable accountability court verdict in Avenfield reference, because apparently, he has no plan B.
Moreover, CJP allowed Nawaz to visit his ailing wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in London. Earlier, on June 7, Judge Bashir had rejected Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz’s application for a five-day exemption from June 11 to June 16 from trial to visit ailing Kulsoom Nawaz in London. SC in its landmark verdict had appointed Ijaz ul Ahsan as a supervisory Judge on July 28 to ensure that the references filed in the accountability court are dealt with within six months.
After NAB filed the references on September 7, 2017, the case should have been completed by March 6, 2018. But Apex Court granted a two-month extension to the accountability court to wrap up the proceedings. Despite day to day hearings about which Nawaz’s informs the public in every gathering across the country, this trial is far more over.
After failing to conclude the references in the second stipulated time, SC had given a second extension in March which expired last Saturday. While allowing the third extension, CJP ordered the court to increase the cases hearing days from five to six at the Lahore Registry. But when Nawaz will be out of the country for 5-days this week, it may not be possible to complete the remaining references in time.
On Tuesday, Khawaja Harris is expected to complete his final arguments in Avenfield reference after the AB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi finished his arguments on June 08. On June 5, Judge Bashir sad that all three NAB references against the Sharif family would be decided simultaneously. It is expected to announce the verdict on the first reference soon.
The accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir had filed the application seeking the extension in the deadline for concluding proceedings in the corruption cases against Nawaz.
House of Nawaz is facing three corruption references related to 16 offshore companies including Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment, Flagship Investment Ltd, and Avenfield properties of London etc. Nawaz and his sons Hussain and Hasan are accused in all three references whereas his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Safdar are accused in the Avenfield reference only.
Nawaz’s counsel has approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and challenged Judge Bashir’ June 5 statement to announce the verdict of each reference separately. Earlier, he had declared that verdict on all references will be announced all at once. But after Nawaz’s refusal to be examined on oath under section 340 (2) CrPC and his decision not to present any witness, made the judge change his mind.
PML-N is at crossroads. Elections are due on July 25. Though Nawaz has prepared well for the probable guilty verdict. The political slogans and repeated political narrative built after the start of accountability proceedings has made some inroads. It has been a repetitive exercise in front of the media to reach out to masses playing the victim card.
After holding massive rallies across Pakistan and demonstrating street power, the father-daughter duo look more confident and have challenged the non-democratic forces and used the phrase ‘Rok Sako to rok lo -[stop us, if you can]’ very often pointing towards an expected win in next elections.
Until now, Nawaz has failed to present credible proofs to prove his innocence and source of his mammoth wealth. Apparently, Nawaz will continue to pressurize the institutions and will visit the masses across Pakistan seeking some respite from the probable unfavorable accountability court verdict in Avenfield reference, because apparently, he has no plan B.