The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday directed Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif’s lawyers to present arguments against his conviction in the Avenfield reference from Nov. 27.
Taking up the former prime minister’s appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption references, a two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb was informed by one of Sharif’s lawyers—Azam Nazeer Tarar—that they wished to commence with the Avenfield reference.
To this, the IHC CJ asked for clarity on how many hours this would entail, prompting another of Sharif’s lawyers—Amjad Pervez—to inform the court that a decision on an appeal of co-accused Maryam Nawaz was already announced on merit. Tarar added that the co-accused’s acquittal was final, and had not been challenged in the Supreme Court.
IHC CJ Farooq noted that the Al-Azizia appeal was still pending, with arguments on merit yet to be heard. He then asked Pervez how many hours would be required for arguments, with the lawyer responding he would need 4-6 hours. Justice Farooq then told the lawyer to forget about Al-Azizia case for now and only present arguments on the Avenfield case.
Justice Farooq remarked that the court had questioned the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) during several hearings already, with the PMLN lawyer arguing that the anti-graft body had failed to provide any evidence. To this, Justice Farooq asked how much time NAB would need to present its arguments.
“We only need half-an-hour, just to put forward the legal points,” the NAB prosecutor said, with the IHC CJ observing the court would permit 1-2 hours for its arguments. The hearing was then adjourned until Nov. 27, with the court directing Nawaz’s lawyers to give their arguments on that date.
The IHC last month restored the PMLN leader’s appeals against his convictions after he ended four years of self-imposed exile in the U.K. and returned to Pakistan. The former prime minister was sentenced to 7 and 10 years’ imprisonment in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield references, respectively, in 2018. In his appeals, he has requested the IHC to set aside the trial court’s ruling.