IHC decides to hear Nawaz’s appeal on merit

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Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain discuss political matters

Former PA deputy speaker Dost Mazari and others joined the PML-N

Court Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday decided to hear Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s appeal against his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference on merit.

A division bench, consisting of Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb, heard the former premier’s appeal.

During the case hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) implored the IHC to remand back the appeal to the accountability court.

However, the bench rejected the NAB’s appeal and decided to hear the matter on merit.

The PML-N supremo along with his legal team appeared in the court.

On December 24, 2018, the accountability court sentenced the former prime minister to seven years in jail and imposed a fine of 2.5 million pounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference.

Nawaz had submitted an appeal against the decision of the accountability court, requesting the court to annul the decision of imprisonment and fine.

The NAB has taken the stand in the appeal that the accountability court awarded a lesser sentence and it should be enhanced.

During the hearing, Nawaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervez Butt informed the court that there are 22 witnesses in this case and most of them are linked to the bank records.

Two of the remaining witnesses are a NAB investigation officer and the other is the head of a joint investigation team (JIT). 

He said that it had been established in the last seven years that Nawaz’s father had established Al Azizia mills.

“Nawaz Sharif was not linked to it in any way ever,” the lawyer contended.

He said that the former prime minister’s “case is better than the Avenfield case in the Al Azizia matter”.

At this, the NAB prosecutor objected to Butt’s arguments and said that he should take their other miscellaneous pleas back.

While Butt opposed the NAB prosecutor’s plea for remanding the appeal back to the accountability court.

At this, Justice Farooq said that the court has two options, either to decide on merit after observing additional evidence or remand the reference back to the accountability court.

Justice Hassan remarked that Nawaz would be considered an accused if the case is sent back to the accountability court and the trial court would have to decide again.

Meanwhile, Former Punjab Assembly deputy speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari and others on Thursday joined the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). 

The development came after the leaders held a meeting with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. Prominent among those who joined the PML-N were Maulana Asif, Babar Khan Sial, Neelam Sial, Chaudhry Khalid Ghani, Ameer Abbas Sial, Faisal Hayat Jabboana, Raees Muhammad Ibrahim, and Sardar Riaz Khan Mazari. 

On this occasion, Shehbaz Sharif welcomed leaders for joining the PML-N. He said: “The PML-N is a house that ensures the country’s prosperity.”

He underscored the importance of fresh inductions into the PML-N. “The process of uplifting the country will be speeded up with your [political leaders] inclusion in the PML-N,” the former premier said.

Underlining the problems in line with inflation, Shehbaz Sharif said: “There is a dire need to extend support to Nawaz Sharif to control inflation.”

He vowed to confront all the challenges faced by the country by embracing the elements of unity, consensus, and political cooperation.

The former lawmakers expressed their confidence in the leadership of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif.