Nawaz gets protective bail in Avenfield, Al-Azizia references till Oct 24

  • Accountability court suspends perpetual arrest warrants issued for three-time PM in Toshakhana reference
  • Against precious plan, Nawaz Sharif’s plane will first land in Islamabad and than proceed to Lahore

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Thursday accepted PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s plea, granting him protective bail till Oct 24 in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases.

It comes before the former premier’s impending arrival on Oct 21. His planned return to Pakistan would be after more than four years of self-imposed exile. In July 2018, ousted Nawaz was handed 10 years in jail in the Avenfield property corruption reference for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which was to be served concurrently.

The Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference pertains to the case in which he was sentenced to seven years in jail and then taken to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail. He was also fined Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million respectively in the case. A day ago, PML-N lawyers had moved the IHC seeking protective bail for Nawaz in these two cases, with NAB Special Prosecutor Afzal Qureshi saying that the accountability watchdog did not object to pleas moved by the elder Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz’s counsels, including former law minister Azam Nazir Tarar and Amjad Pervaiz, appeared before the court while NAB prosecutors Rana Maqsood, Qureshi and Naeem Sanghera were also present.

Perpetual arrest warrants in Toshakhana reference

Separately, an Islamabad accountability court suspended perpetual arrest warrants issued against Nawaz in 2020 in the Toshakhana reference.

The case accused him, former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from the Toshakhana — a department that stores gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments, states, and foreign dignitaries. In June 2020, an accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the former premier in the case. Months later, Nawaz challenged the warrants in the IHC but withdrew the petition days later.

On Sept 10, 2020, he was declared a proclaimed offender in the case, with an accountability court initiating the process to confiscate his properties and directing NAB to make his arrest through Interpol. The next month, an accountability court ordered authorities to seize the ex-premier’s assets, including national and international bank accounts, agricultural land and vehicles. Following the Supreme Court’s order that struck down amendments to the NAB laws and reopened graft cases against public office holders, an accountability court had also summoned Zardari and Gillani in the same case last month. Today, Judge Muhammad Bashir took up a petition seeking the suspension of the warrants, where Qazi Misbah appeared as Nawaz’s counsel while the NAB prosecutor was also present.

During the hearing, Misbah urged the court to suspend the non-bailable arrest warrants issued against his client. He informed the court that the PML-N supremo wanted to appear before the court on October 24 as there was already a case fixed for that day. The judge then sought the record of the case. The lawyer argued that warrants against former finance minister Ishaq Dar were also suspended in a “case of similar scale”. Assuring the judge that Nawaz would appear before the accountability court, Misbah argued that the NAB had not issued any arrest warrant against the PML-N supremo.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor informed the court that the former prime minister “was saying he wants to surrender before the court”. He offered that the court may suspend the warrants till October 24 if the suspect wanted to appear before the court.

Foolproof security for Nawaz after threat alert

The Punjab Home Department has received a threat alert regarding the arrival of PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore on Thursday.

The Home Department has sent the threat alert to the police and directed the Punjab police to ensure foolproof security for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

It may be mentioned here that Nawaz Sharif reportedly has reached Dubai from Saudi Arabia. He is due to board a chartered plane on October 21 and will land in Islamabad in the evening. He will later travel to Lahore to address a public gathering at Minar-i-Pakistan.

‘Nawaz Sharif flight to first land in Islamabad’

PML-N leader Ata Tarar Thursday said that Nawaz Sharif’s plane will first land in Islamabad than proceed to Lahore.

Talking to media, Tarar said that the PML-N supreme leader will leave for Lahore after legal consultations. Ata Tarar said that it is the standard procedure of the protective bail, not out of the way relief given to him. He also said that the party’s public meeting in Lahore will be held as per the fixed time.

PML-N sources said that a special chartered flight, carrying Nawaz Sharif, will land in Islamabad on Oct. 21. The flight’s passengers’ immigration will be held at Islamabad Airport. Nawaz Sharif will consult his legal team and sign documents, sources added.

Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said that Nawaz Sharif’s plane will land in Islamabad on October 21. He will stay one hour in the capital city. PML-N Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar has said that Nawaz Sharif will face the court and legal team will assist him.

Talking to media outside the Islamabad High Court premises, former law minister said that in 2007, 2013, 2018 and 2023 accountability made similarly. “I don’t know why it is made such an issue,” he said. “It is a fundamental right, for which the applicant knocked the court’s door,” he said. “No one raised objection when medical report was submitted to the Lahore High Court,” Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer said.

‘Criminal granted foreign travel, bail upon return unprecedented’

Executive Chairman Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Hasan Raza Pasha on Thursday raised concerns about the unusual practice of allowing criminals to travel abroad and secure bail upon their return.

Speaking to a private TV channel, he questioned whether common criminals should be permitted to leave the country and whether they should be granted protective bail, emphasizing that such a scenario is unprecedented.

Former leader of the People’s Party and Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar expressed disappointment with Nawaz Sharif’s return to politics, suggesting that Sharif had gone back on his promise to avoid the politics of the 1990s and had instead made undisclosed deals.



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