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Nawaz appears before AC amid a political controversy


News Analysis |

The former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the accountability court in Islamabad for the hearing of Al-Azizia steel mills reference on Wednesday. Accountability court II Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik resumed hearing of the remaining two corruption references. The court proceedings were earlier postponed against former premier due to the absence of the defense counsel Khawaja Haris.

Nawaz counsel had informed the court that he was unwell. Judge bemoaned the absence of the defense’s counsel and commented that a similar situation had occurred on Monday too. Resultantly, the last two hearings were canceled due to the absence of  Khawaja Harris. After the suspension of Avenfield verdict, it is the fourth time that Nawaz has appeared before the accountability court. Nawaz arrived in the capital on a special plane.

The media speculation over the deal with the establishment and Rana Mashhood’s statement has stirred a new storm in the country.

The party activists and the party loyalists were present outside the court to welcome Sharif. Replying to the question of a journalist on the statement of former education minister, Rana Mashhood, Nawaz said: “Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of the statement. I am in a different state of mind, and you are asking me political questions.” Keeping his threatening antics alive, Nawaz used a poetic verse which meant ‘he knows a lot, but if he reveals the details, it would stir a storm.’

Earlier, the defense has completed the cross-examination of star witness and head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)—Wajid Zia in the Al-Azizia reference. Moreover, all the 22-witnesses in the reference have recorded their statements. The court is yet to complete the statements of star-witness Wajid Zia in Flagship reference. Now, Harris will start the cross-examination of the NAB’s investigation officer.

Read more: Al Azizia Reference: Prosecution witnesses record statements against Sharif

Currently, the court is running the two references simultaneously, and twin-verdict will be announced in both references. After this, accused—Nawaz 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 of all the references along with their father.

Bail from IHC in Avenfield Reference

The Islamabad High Court today (Wednesday) issued a detailed 41- page verdict regarding its order to suspend the sentence of all three suspects. “The NAB mostly relied on Panama Paper case to argue their points against suspension in sentences, “report states.

The media speculation over the deal with the establishment and Rana Mashhood’s statement has stirred a new storm in the country.

The shorter version of report reproduced at the end says, “The respective sentences awarded to the petitioners by the Accountability Court No.1, Islamabad, shall remain suspended till the final adjudication of the appeals filed by the petitioners. The petitioners shall be released on bail, subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs.5,00,000/- (Rupees five hundred thousand) each with one surety each in the like amount to the satisfaction of Deputy Registrar (Judicial) of this Court.”

On September 19, Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retired) Safdar were released from Adiala prison on bail after an Islamabad High Court bench suspended their sentence until the appeals are heard.

Read more: Sharif’s challenge Avenfield reference verdict in IHC, highlight technical flaws

An IHC bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had granted a bail to Nawaz. The Justice Athar Minallah had accepted the arguments of the Nawaz’s counsel that there was enough reasonable doubt in the verdict of the accountability court to release the Sharif’s.

PML-N makes a move

Nawaz seems optimistic in spite of the on-going reference after the bail from IHC in Avenfield reference case. The media speculation over the deal with the establishment and Rana Mashhood’s statement has stirred a new storm in the country.

Read more: Why are NAB references against Sharif family important?

The seasoned politician is not naïve to come out with a narrative—which completely opposes the Nawaz’s anti-establishment stance. Since according to NAB’s ordinance a convict with a sentence over 3-years cannot be set free on bail; apparently, a staged interview of former provincial minister reflects that PML-N’s senior leadership is contemplating a move.

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