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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Nawaz claims that July deadline in NAB cases can hamper party’s chances in polls

News Analysis |

The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday claimed that Supreme Court’s decision to extend the deadline for one month to wrap up the trial against him will hamper PML-N’s performance in the upcoming polls.

Former PM claimed in the court that trial in accountability court was running at an unprecedented high speed and no such example exists where the court was being run under the direct supervision of the Apex Court.

SC had appointed Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan as a supervisory Judge in its landmark decision on July 28 to ensure that the references filed in the accountability court are dealt within six months.

In reply, Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court said that there are precedents where the monitoring judges were appointed to supervise the selective cases to dispose them off in a stipulated time.

Read more: SC dismisses petition seeking Sheikh Rashid’s disqualification

“If the Chief Justice of Pakistan wants to regulate this case, he may transfer it before his own bench to give a verdict to hang me or send me to jail,” Nawaz said.

After failing to conclude the references in the stipulated time given for the second time, SC had given another extension in March which expired last Saturday. But accountability court was unable to draw the curtain on one of the most high profile cases in Pakistan’s history within a stipulated time.

On June 10, CJP directed the accountability court to conclude the trial within one month. He not only allowed the third extension but also passed the orders to increase the days of the hearing from five to six.

It is ironic that how Nawaz’s Counsel Khawaja Harris dragged the case along for 9-months and used all the tactics to not conclude the arguments on the first reference.

When Judge asked the defense to counsel, Amjad Pervez, to start final arguments from today [Wednesday], Maryam Nawaz said, she had to appear before the returning officer for scrutiny of her nomination papers. The court is adjourned until Thursday.

Nawaz is trying to give an impression that it was not him but court which has made his life difficult.

Three times PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retired) Safdar are facing the trial after Supreme Court ordered the anti-graft watchdog -the National Accountability Bureau to file corruption references against the accused in its July 28 Panama Papers case Judgment.

Read more: Estranged Nisar poses new challenges for Sharifs; criticizes his former bosses

Although, Judge Bashir had made it clear to Nawaz that it was not mandatory for accountability court to conduct proceeding on Saturdays and it was left to the trial court’s discretion. Nawaz objected that if this can be left for accountability court to decide then why not an extension in the trail?

Nawaz regretted the pressure imposed on his counsel to appear on weekends which made him file an application to withdraw his attorney papers from the case. Judge asked Nawaz to convince his counsel to resume work as he is yet to accept his withdrawal application.

Nawaz informed the court that none of the lawyers was willing to take up the case due to extreme restrictions applied on it.

The court has ordered Nawaz to either convince Harris to resume his duties or higher a new lawyer by June 19.

Thus far, Nawaz has been successful in extending the case for nine-months, but, if after the final arguments which start from Thursday, the court decides to reserve or announce the verdict in Avenfield reference, it may result in a political setback for Nawaz.

Apparently, the extension in the deadline might appear to be soft for the Sharif family; however, it might possibly inflict a devastating blow on them. With the final date set in July, right before the July 25 general elections, it may hamper his party’s chances in the polls as Nawaz fears.