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IHC Tells Nawaz Sharif to Surrender’ to Authorities

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo. Tolga Akmen—AFP

Two-member bench says it is giving former P.M. ‘one last chance’ before he is declared an absconder

The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday directed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to “surrender” to authorities and appear before the court at its next hearing in the Avenfield reference case on Sept. 10.

A two-member bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, said it was giving Sharif “one last chance” to submit himself to authorities before he was declared an absconder. It was hearing the appeals of Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband, Safdar, against their convictions in the Avenfield reference.

It also heard an appeal filed by the National Accountability Bureau against Sharif’s acquittal in the Flagship reference, as well as Sharif’s appeals against his conviction in the Al-Azizia reference.

The court directed the federal government to present a report on Sharif’s health and adjourned proceedings until Sept. 10. During the hearing, Sharif’s attorney argued that his client’s bail had been approved, adding that he was currently not out on bail, but was rather allowed to seek medical treatment abroad.

To this, Justice Farooq said that Sharif had been granted conditional bail for a specific time period and only so long as he needed medical care. Sharif’s lawyer replied that his client’s medical reports had provided to the Punjab government but it had still rejected his bail extension.

Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband, Mohammad Safdar, appeared before the court as part of their appeals. Addressing media outside the court, she said her father was eager to return to Pakistan as soon as he was able to do so. “No one would want to stay away from the country at this age. [Sharif’s] treatment is ongoing but was delayed due to the coronavirus,” she added.

All three references heard today—Avenfield, Flagship and Al-Azizia—relate to the Panama Papers case. Nawaz Sharif, Maryam and Safdar were all convicted on July 6, 2018 in the Avenfield reference, with the former prime minister sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for owning assets beyond means, and one year for not cooperating with NAB.

Maryam was given seven years for abetment, and one year for non-cooperation with NAB, while Safdar was given one-year jail time for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam.

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