News Analysis |
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has granted another six-week extension to the accountability court to conclude the Al Azizia and Flagship corruption references against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. While, granting the fifth extension, the apex court asked the special court to conclude the trial within the stipulated time. Besides, in a special order, the Chief Justice Saqib Nisar directed the Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik to submit a progress report of the much-publicized case to the top court on weekly basis.
On Monday, 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. Nawaz’s counsel in the case, Khawaja Harris had submitted the plea to extend the deadline to December, which was declined. He bemoaned his inability to manage the accountability court and IHC appeal proceedings.
Nawaz’s sons, Hussain and Hasan have been declared proclaimed offenders for not appearing before the court. Both the brothers were accused in all the references along with their father
In his response, CJP suggested him to work on Saturday, akin to the apex court to distribute the burden. On August 24, the accountability court filed an application seeking the fifth extension in the corruption references against the Sharif family. Last year on July 28, when Nawaz was disqualified from the office, the apex court had had initially directed the Muhammad Bashir of accountability court number one, to conclude the trial within six months.
This deadline expired on March 07, 2018. Subsequently, the apex court granted a two-month extension which was increased once again and the deadline of May 09, 2018 was set The court was unable to complete the trail within the stipulated time, and deadline expired, yet again. Later, the Accountability court applied for third-extension on June 04, 2018. On June, 12, the apex court, restricted the accountability court to conclude the case within the next 30-day deadline. In compliance, the trial court concluded Avenfield reference on July 6.
After the completion of Avenfield case, the Supreme Court revised the deadline for the remaining references for the fourth time, till August 25. But once again, the stipulated time has lapsed and a plea for another extension was made for the fifth time on August 24. 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 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 the 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 “house of Nawaz” against the Avenfield judgment.