IHC bars authorities from arresting Suleman Shehbaz upon return

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday ordered Suleman Shehbaz to surrender before it on December 13 and barred authorities from arresting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s son till then.

The court while issuing the directives also asked the authorities not to arrest the petitioner at the airport. The orders were given by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq while hearing a plea filed by the prime minister’s son for protective bail.

During the hearing, Suleman’s lawyer Amjad Pervez told the court that his client is abroad since October 2018 and all the cases were registered after that.

However, the court informed the lawyer that it cannot grant bail in absence of the petitioner.

At this, Pervez urged the bench to stop the authorities from arresting his client, adding that his client will reach Islamabad on December 11. He also shared Suleman Shehbaz’s air ticket with the court.

The court accepted the lawyer’s request and directed Suleman to appear before the bench on December 13 and barred the authorities from arresting the prime minister’s son on his arrival. 

The son of PM Shehbaz had approached the IHC through his counsel Amjad Pervaiz a day earlier to seek two-week protective bail in a money laundering case registered against him, as he decided to end his London exile.

Suleman had prayed the court to grant him a protective bail so he could appear before the relevant forum upon his return to the country.

Suleman ends London exile to return to Pakistan

Suleman Shhebaz is set to return to Pakistan after ending his exile of over four years in the British capital.

The prime minister’s son is currently in Saudi Arabia — to perform Umrah — on his way to Pakistan. He will be arriving in Pakistan on Saturday with his wife and children.

Suleman had reached London from Pakistan ahead of the 2018 general elections when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) registered several cases against him.

He was also named in several cases along with his father, the current prime minister, his brother Hamza Shehbaz, and other Sharif family members.

The Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), headed by Imran Khan’s former accountability aide Shahzad Akbar, had Suleman investigated in London in Shahbaz’s money-laundering and misuse of public office case by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) but he was given a clean chit after two years of investigation by the UK’s top anti-corruption sleuths.

Suleman claimed he was forced to leave Pakistan after fake and manipulated cases were against him and his family in order to facilitate a new political order.

He said that nobody goes into exile, leaving their homeland behind, out of their free will and it’s only under unfair circumstances that he was left with no choice but to “leave Pakistan for safety”.

“There was no chance of any justice at that time when a whole system was put in place to bring in the hybrid system, displacing us as a family and as a political party. The whole system was based on injustice and this system relied on lies, manipulations, and victimisation. The whole system was geared to target us using fake cases and using the state machinery.”

He said in a statement from Madinah: “These cases were the worst example of a political witch-hunt and political victimisation. There was no truth and not a scintilla of evidence of corruption in the cases cooked up by the National Accountability Bureau under the former NAB chairman Javed Iqbal and the Assets Recovery Unit.”

“The former NAB chairman was blackmailed through a relationship scandal and scandalous videos by the previous regime in order to frame cases against me and my family.”

“He was told that he would be kicked out of the job if he didn’t frame these cases to provide non-stop lies to the media to assassinate our character. We will never wish this kind of cruelty to even our worst enemies in politics.”