–Non-bailable arrest warrants issued for Dawn journalist, name put on ECL after repeated no-show in court
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for journalist Cyril Almeida and summoned the deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on October 8 in a high treason case.
A three-member bench headed by Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi heard the treason petition lodged by Advocate Azhar Siddiqui against former prime ministers Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Nawaz Sharif and journalist Cyril Almeida.
Abbasi was present in court for the hearing while Nawaz and Almeida were absent.
Defence counsel Advocate Naseer Bhutta said that the reason for Nawaz’s absence was that people have been visiting him to condole the passing of his wife Begum Kulsoom.
He further requested the court to fix a date for the next hearing after Kulsoom Nawaz’s chaliswan (forty days of mourning).
Accepting to the postponement request, Justice Naqvi fixed the hearing for October 8. He ordered Nawaz to appear before the court in person at the next hearing and issued non-bailable arrest warrant for Almeida, considering that Cyril had failed to appear in the last three hearings of the case.
The lawyer asked the judges to issue bailable arrest warrants instead of non-bailable arrest warrants and said he was sure Almeida would appear in court in the next hearing.
The judges asked the lawyer if he could guarantee that the journalist would appear in the next hearing without a doubt, to which the lawyer said he could not provide such a guarantee.
The court also ordered that Almeida’s name is placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) and non-bailable arrest warrant be issued for him, saying he must appear on October 8.
The petition alleges that Abbasi shared crucial details of the National Security Council (NSC) meeting with Nawaz following his statements on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
“By leaking details of the NSC Abbasi committed high treason,” the petition says.
Siddiqui had argued that Nawaz’s controversial interview to a publication had dented the country’s image and sovereignty. He further alleged that Abbasi supported Nawaz in the matter.
The petitioner had pleaded that Sharif had committed sedition by rejecting the NSC statement and was liable for action as per the Constitution and the Pakistan Penal Code, and also sought action against Abbasi for violation of oath through his disclosure of the minutes of the NSC meeting to Sharif.
He further requested the court to order a treason trial against the three respondents.
In July, the Lahore High Court had decided to adjourn the hearing till after the general elections.
On May 12, Nawaz gave an interview to a local daily in which he had stated, “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
“We have isolated ourselves. Despite giving sacrifices, our narrative is not being accepted. Afghanistan’s narrative is being accepted, but ours is not. We must look into it,” he added.