Posts Tagged ‘Nawaz Sharif’

Imran asks Punjab, KP to fine-tune new LG system

LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan on Sunday granted yet another extension in ,the deadline for local government reforms,, this time by 48 hours, and directed the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to fine-tune the new LG system, besides issuing orders for formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into loss of Punjab’s official record in fire incidents.

During his second visit to Lahore since assuming the Prime Minister’s Office, Imran Khan also chided the Indian leadership’s arrogance and said: “If India hurls threats, it will be given a befitting reply by the Pakistani nation. However, he declared, “Pakistan wants peace, friendship and trade to develop the region.”

He asserted that Pakistan would never bow to any pressure, not even by any super power.

He expressed these views while addressing the bureaucracy after holding meetings with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and his cabinet members to review Punjab’s progress on the government’s 100-day agenda.

Says India will be given a befitting reply if it hurls threats though Pakistan wants peace, friendship and trade

Speaking to police officers and civil servants, Mr Khan said Pakistan wanted to have cordial relations with all nations and promote trade and economic ties to overcome the financial crisis. With a vital geo-strategic positioning, he said, Pakistan could attract massive foreign investment, provided it streamlined its governance system and win investors’ confidence. “I did not go to Saudi Arabia and the UAE to beg but to invite investment for Pakistan,” he explained.

De-politicisation of bureaucracy

In a tacit reference to the Pakpattan incident that resulted in the transfer of a district police officer, Mr Khan said he had allowed the bureaucracy to report any political meddling in official working to top bosses. He took serious note of complaints by two deputy commissioners and a police officer who, he said, had violated the chain of command. “Any move of making complaints public will not be tolerated from now onwards and will invite strict disciplinary action,” he warned.

He said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government wanted to free bureaucracy from political pressure and asked the bureaucracy to seize the opportunity and deliver in the best interest of people. He urged the bureaucracy to shun political affiliations and perform their duties professionally for the well-being of people and the country.

Mr Khan said that PTI members had been instructed that any issue they would face at the hands of bureaucracy should be reported to the chief minister, who himself would eventually sort out matters with the chief secretary and police chief.

“The PTI legislators will not directly interfere in bureaucracy’s functioning,” he promised.

He said bureaucrats should think afresh and serve the masses on merit. “This new mindset actually means Naya Pakistan,” he said, adding that the prime minister and chief minister offices would establish complaint cells to address grievances of the masses.

Three points for new LG system

Following the PM’s meeting with the Punjab cabinet, a separate meeting with CM Buzdar, a senior minister and law minister on local government system, federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry told the media that Mr Khan had held a detailed discussion on new local government system and finalised three basic principles – the LG system should be simple, hold direct elections and ensure empowering elected representatives to serve the masses at the grassroots level.

As the village councils’ experiment in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had rendered results, the PM wanted to resize union councils in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, he said. “Village council is a smaller unit catering to some 2,000 to 6,000 people, while each UC in Punjab covers around 30,000 people. The discussion is hovering around whether village councils be created or UC size be reconsidered,” he explained.

Besides, he said, there was a question whether the direct mayor election should be held at tehsil or district level.

Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister also assigned targets to respective ministers demanding that they should come up to the expectations to the leadership as well as the people of Punjab, who were looking towards them with a new hope. “The incumbent PTI government wanted to behave as a people-friendly government,” he said.

Audit reports of metro bus projects received

The information minister said the prime minister ordered investigation into all fire incidents that burnt important record in government offices.

He said reports of simple audit into metro bus projects in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan had been received but forensic audits would take time. “All these scandals will expose those involved in corruption and they will land in jails,” he asserted.

Answering a question, the information minister said ousted premier Nawaz Sharif’s political future was dark and now he should pray for his personal future as the Hill Metals Establishment case was near conclusion. He said the case found unaccounted for transactions worth Rs800 million to Maryam Nawaz and Rs160 million to a cook’s account. “Nawaz Sharif should bring nation’s money back to Pakistan,” he said.

‘Modi caught in scandals’

Answering a question about Pakistan’s offer and consequent Indian reply, the information minister said Pakistan wanted peace and wanted that the neighbouring atomic powers hold a dialogue on all longstanding issues. While India by cancelling the scheduled meeting of foreign ministers indicated its desire to weaken Pakistan, “this is not possible because only regions rise, not individual countries,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said Indian premier Narendra Modi had been caught in an internal “Rafale scandal” involving $8 billion to $10 billion and wanted to shift public attention from internal to external politics to save his skin. He said Modi should contest his own case instead of shifting the blame on Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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PML-N, PPP mull over joining hands in by-polls

ISLAMABAD: After going separate ways during the recent election for the key offices of prime minister and president and causing serious damage to the opposition’s unity, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are now considering joining hands in the coming by-elections.

A PML-N delegation, headed by Opposition Leader in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq, met PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bokhari at his residence here on Sunday and conveyed him a message of the PML-N leadership that the two parties must work together from the platform of joint opposition inside and outside the parliament.

The PML-N delegation comprised Senator Chaudhry Tanveer, former minister Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and former MNA Anjum Aqeel.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Bokhari said the two sides had discussed the possibilities of fielding joint candidates in next month’s by-elections to be held in 11 constituencies of the National Assembly and 26 of the provincial assemblies. These seats have fallen vacant due to different reasons, including resignations by those elected on more than one seat and death of some contesting candidates.

Zafar-led delegation conveys party high-command’s message to Peoples Party

Mr Bokhari said they had discussed various options and proposals, but refused to provide details, saying he could not do so before discussing them with his party’s leadership. He said the PML-N leaders had also sought time so that they could also consult their leadership.

In reply to a question, the PPP leader said cooperation between the two parties would not be limited to two or three seats, and they would have to agree on a formula for all the constituencies.

Asked if the PML-N delegation had conveyed any message of their supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, Mr Bokhari said, “The message was simple that we should work as joint opposition inside and outside the parliament to give a tough time to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.”

He expressed the hope that there would be more meetings between the two parties in a few days and said that not only the PML-N, but other opposition parties would also be taken on board, if they (the PPP and PML-N) reached consensus.

Similarly, when contacted, PML-N’s Raja Zafarul Haq said the two sides had agreed to increase coordination and cooperation with a view to playing an effective role of opposition. He said they had discussed the option of jointly contesting the upcoming by-elections, but no final decision had been made so far.

Sources said the main purpose of the visit of the PML-N’s delegation was to seek cooperation on the two National Assembly seats — NA-53 Islamabad and NA-60 Rawalpindi. However, they said, Mr Bokhari made no commitment with the PML-N team and stressed the need for a broader cooperation and adjustments on all the seats being contested in the by-polls.

The sources said that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif was reaching Islamabad on Monday (today) after which contacts between the country’s two major parties and arch rivals of the past were expected to increase. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is also expected to be present in the capital as the National Assembly is also in session.

It was the first direct and formal contact between the two parties after the Sept 4 presidential elections in which the PPP had fielded Chuadhry Aitzaz Ahsan whereas the PML-N and other opposition parties had nominated Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as their joint candidate against the PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi.

Despite hectic efforts and mediation of other parties, the PML-N had refused to vote for Mr Ahsan due to his controversial remarks about the illness of Nawaz Sharif and his wife Kulsoom Nawaz whereas the PPP had also refused to withdraw from the race.

The failure of the opposition parties to field a joint candidate virtually provided a walkover to Dr Arif Alvi who managed to win the election without facing any difficulty.

And after facing humiliation in the presidential poll, the two parties started passing the buck holding each other responsible for it.

Making a direct attack, PML-N information secretary Senator Mushahidullah Khan had alleged that Mr Zardari had damaged democracy. He alleged that the PPP had ditched the combined opposition twice — first by refusing to vote for Shahbaz Sharif in the election for the prime minister and then by unilaterally nominating Aitzaz Ahsan as the presidential candidate.

Another PML-N leader Engineer Amir Muqam was of the opinion that Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Dr Alvi should be “thankful” to Mr Zardari for the party’s victory in the presidential election.

Similarly, when a reporter sought Mr Zardari’s comments on the PML-N allegations, he had said with his usual smile on his face: “They are saying that Zardari has broken the opposition alliance. Why shouldn’t we say that Mian Sahab (Shahbaz Sharif) has never been in the opposition?”

The grand opposition alliance formed by 11 parties soon after the July 25 elections had fallen apart within weeks following the PPP’s refusal to vote for PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif against PTI chief Imran Khan in the election of prime minister despite agreeing on a formula during a meeting of the multiparty conference.

The PPP backed out of its commitment and asked the PML-N to replace Mr Sharif with some other candidate, explaining that the party could not vote for him as he had made some controversial remarks against Mr Zardari during the election campaign.

The cracks within the opposition ranks deepened when the PPP unilaterally nominated Mr Ahsan as the presidential candidate, drawing the ire of other opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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NA set to amend rules to introduce PM’s Question Hour

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly is set to take up on Monday (today) an amendment to its rules making it mandatory for the prime minister to respond to questions of the members about government affairs on the floor of the house.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan will move an amendment to Rule 69 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business 2007 in the assembly, which suggests insertion of a sub-rule introducing “Prime Minister’s Question Hour”, according to an 11-point agenda issued by the NA Secretariat for Monday’s sitting.

Soon after winning the election of prime minister, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan had announced that he would make himself available on a fortnightly basis to the members of parliament to reply to their questions relating different matters on the floor of the house on the pattern of the British parliament.

Under the amendment, Imran will be bound to reply to questions on first Wednesday of each session and subject to his availability

However, the new rule suggests that the prime minster will be bound to reply to questions only on the first Wednesday of each session and subject to his availability.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Chapter, subject to availability of the prime minister, there shall be ‘Prime Minister’s Question Hour’ on the first Wednesday once in each session for answering questions on the matters relating to the overall substantive policy or the performance of government,” reads the new sub-rule (2) to be inserted in Rule 69 of the assembly rules.

Though the prime minister has a privilege of getting the floor of the National Assembly any time he wants to speak on any matter, Imran Khan wants to see the rules amended with a view to make it mandatory for future prime ministers as well to respond to the questions of MNAs.

Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani of the Pakistan Peoples Party was the only prime minister who was found to be present in the assembly during the question hour most of the time and even used to give replies to questions of the members, despite the fact that it was not mandatory for him. In 2012, the rules of the Senate were amended under which one hour was allocated for the prime minister to give reply to questions.

Rule 61 of the Senate says: “The prime minister shall whenever possible personally respond to points raised by members whenever he is present in the house. However, the prime minister shall attend the Prime Minister’s Zero Hour at least once in each week when the Senate is in session.”

However, this rule was never implemented as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif attended the Senate sessions only three to four times throughout his more than four-year rule.

Even former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, who was otherwise known for strictly running the house under rules, never raised the issue of non-implementation of the rule. Similarly, though the senators usually complained about the absence of the prime minister and ministers from the house, they never called for implementation of the rule.

Debate on mini-budget

Besides taking up the proposed amendment, the members of the assembly are also expected to take part in a general debate on the mini-budget presented by Finance Minister Asad Umar last week.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry will lay the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 (No IX of 2018) and the minister of state for parliamentary affairs will present the Elections (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 (No XIII of 2018) in the assembly, which will be meeting after a five-day recess.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2018

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Pakistan still willing to open Kartarpur crossing despite India’s ‘unfortunate’ decision: Chaudhry

Despite Indian government’s refusal to engage in dialogue, Pakistani authorities are willing to open the Kartarpur border crossing so that Sikh pilgrims can visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib without a visa, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in an ,interview to Hindustan Times, on Saturday.

Talking to the Indian publication, Chaudhry said that while ,India’s decision to cancel the meeting, — which was to be held between both countries’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly — was “unfortunate”, citizens should not be made to suffer.

Explore: ,What the Indian media is saying about Modi govt’s cancellation of UNGA meeting with Pakistan,

“This is an issue of the ordinary people, Sikhs and other Indian pilgrims, and an issue of faith,” he said in a phone interview. “They shouldn’t suffer and we want to formalise the informal proposal the Pakistan army chief made to [Punjab State Minister Navjot Singh] Sidhu.”

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Last month, Sidhu had visited Pakistan to attend Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oath-taking ceremony. He had also ,met Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa,, who told him that “when [Sikh community] celebrates the 550th birthday of Baba Nanak [...] we’ll open the Kartarpur-Sahib Corridor.”

In his interview to Hindustan Times, Chaudhry reiterated the government’s stance to look for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue — which he said was the basic issue between Pakistan and India — and said that New Delhi had “wasted a wonderful opportunity [for peace] by rejecting the prime minister’s offer”.

On Friday, the Indian government had cancelled the meeting following domestic pressure just a day after it agreed to it. Pakistan, in response, ,voiced its “deep disappointment”, not only over the reasons cited for the cancellation of the meeting — the alleged killing of India’s Border Security Force’s soldier and Pakistan’s decision to release stamps honouring Kashmir freedom fighter Burhan Wani — but also over “reference in the Indian MEA statement to the person of the Prime Minister of Pakistan”.

Also read: ,’Pakistan has nothing to lose’ — analysts weigh in on Modi govt’s U-turn on UNGA meeting,

During his interview, Chaudhry said that while Pakistan had “several options” including war, the government considers it “foolish” to adopt a confrontational approach. Pointing out that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, Chaudhry asked: “Can’t we look for a solution to our problems through dialogue?”

Chaudhry said that India’s sudden change of heart is a result of the country’s domestic problems. He pointed out that elections in India were a few months away and “anti-Pakistan rhetoric sells” in the country.

He also rubbished India’s accusations of Pakistan’s interference in held Kashmir.

“It is wrong to hold Pakistan responsible for the ongoing struggle in held Kashmir,” he said, but reiterated that: “Pakistan supports Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom.”

He further said that Pakistani authorities had “solid evidence” of Indian interference in Balochistan.

Kulbhushan Jadhav — an Indian spy who is under the custody of Pakistan’s armed forces — is sufficient proof of India’s interference in Balochistan, Chaudhry said.

He said that Pakistan was ready to hold talks on every issue, but the efforts cannot remain one-sided.

“We cannot change our neighbours,” the information minister said. “India has to decide [its future strategy].”

“Pakistan extended an offer of peace”

Talking to the media at home, Chaudhry said that the Pakistani government had “talked about peace” and wanted to hold talks with India as both countries have had “bitter experiences” in the past.

“Pakistan and India have been fighting for the past 70 years. Both [countries] are nuclear powers. If a war breaks out, then the country that is left standing can keep talking,” he said.

Referring to an ongoing ,corruption scandal surrounding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,, Chaudhry repeated his claim that New Delhi’s decision to cancel the meeting was influenced by domestic pressure.

“Just like Nawaz Sharif was caught up in the Panama Papers, Modi is now caught up in the Rafale planes scandal,” the information minister said.

He insisted that the development of the region was vital for the progress of India and Pakistan.

“In India, there is a mindset that in order for the country to progress, they must weaken Pakistan. But if you study history, this is not the case. The region must be strengthened for the countries to develop. Our army chief has also stressed this point earlier,” he said.

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SC to hear NAB plea against transfer of Sharifs’ cases

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will take up on Tuesday an appeal of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Javed Iqbal challenging the transfer of Al-Azizia/Hill Metal and Flagship Investment references against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif from one accountability court to another.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan will begin hearing the plea filed by NAB against the order of the Islamabad High Court that transferred the two references against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar from Judge Moham­mad Bashir to Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik of the accountability court on Aug 7.

The Sharifs were sent to jail by Judge Mohammad Bashir in another reference pertaining to Avenfield apartments on July 6.

Ousted PM, Judge Bashir respondents in NAB petition against IHC order

Both the former prime minister and Judge Mohammad Bashir are respondents in the NAB petition.

Earlier on Sept 18, an SC bench, headed by the CJP, had rejected a NAB’s petition by not only dubbing it ‘frivolous’ but also slapping a fine of Rs20,000 as to be deposited by NAB in the Pakistan Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund. The previous plea had been moved against the IHC’s decision to hear petitions of the Sharifs against the suspension of sentences awarded to the ousted PM, his daughter and son-in-law by the accountability court in the Avenfield apartments reference.

A day after the rejection of NAB’s plea by the apex court, the IHC suspended their jail term till a decision on the petitions filed by the Sharifs and ordered their release from Adiala jail.

No bias highlighted against judge: NAB

In its fresh appeal, NAB argued that the IHC fell into grave error by transferring the two references when no actual and specific bias or prejudice was highlighted against the earlier accountability court judge.

The petition pleaded that none of the reasons spelled out in the short order of the IHC of transferring the trial to another court were germane to the case law on the subject of the transfer of cases. In fact, the petition argued, they are not akin to the grounds and causes of such action.

NAB highlighted that the references against the Sharifs were filed before Judge Mohammad Bashir of the Islamabad accountability court in compliance with the SC directions on recommendations of the Panamagate Joint Investigations Team (JIT), headed by Wajid Zia.

The commonality of grounds in all the references had never been visualized by the superior courts for the transfer of the cases, NAB argued. The perceived notion attributed to the accountability judge was not tenable in law related to the transfer of cases, it pleaded.

Questioning the high court order, the appeal pleaded whether or not it was imperative and in the interest of justice, fair play and equality that the trial court judge, who had earlier recorded depositions of witnesses and seen their demeanour, was better equipped to understand testimonies in the related references.

The petitioner also asked whether the grounds raised in the applications for transfer of cases were in accordance with the law and canons of justice and could be made a ground for the transfer of the reference.

The bureau questioned whether the respondents (Sharifs) had ever raised objection to neutrality of the accountability judge during the trial and whether or not their fresh application for the transfer of the cases before the high court was not a ploy to prolong and protract the proceedings by depriving the parties from the right of a fair trial as envisaged under Article 10-A of the Constitution.

The appeal argued that the successor judge (Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik) would neither be acquainted with the earlier proceedings nor would be fully aware of the demeanour of the witnesses and arguments made on different miscellaneous applications.

The appeal asked if the high court could at all look into the merits of the case while dealing with the transfer applications. It further questioned whether or not the transfer order was against the established norms of justice and principles of the transfer of cases.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018

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Hanif Abbasi shifted from Adiala jail to Attock prison after photo leak controversy

PML-N leader Mohammad Hanif Abbasi was on Saturday morning shifted from Adiala prison in Rawalpindi to Attock jail, sources told DawnNewsTV.

Abbasi, who is serving a life sentence after his ,conviction in the ephedrine quota case,, was shifted to the prison in Attock in the early hours of Saturday on the recommendation of a two-member inquiry committee, a source in Adiala jail said.

The committee was ,formed to investigate, how photographs were taken of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and others in the office of the Central Jail Adiala superintendent prior to Sharif’s release on Wednesday on orders of the Islamabad High Court. Abbasi was one of the leaders seen in the photo.

Formed by Inspector General of Prisons Punjab Shahid Saleem Baig, the committee, which consists of Deputy Inspector General of Prisons Multan Region Malik Shaukat and Additional Inspector General Judicial Malik Safdar, was tasked with investigating who managed to bring a camera or phone into the office of jail superintendent Saeedullah Gondal. Mobile phones and cameras are not permitted within the prison facility.

The committee will interview Gondal and other jail staffers, as well as view CCTV footage of the visitors.

Members of the committee also visited Adiala jail, and recommended that Abbasi be transferred to Attock prison, sources told DawnNewsTV.

Two photographs released on social media showed Nawaz Sharif with Shahbaz, former adviser to the prime minister on aviation Sardar Mehtab Khan, Murtaza Javed Abbasi and Raheel Munir.

Another photograph showed Abbasi sitting beside Sharif in the jail superintendent’s office. The deputy inspector general of prisons Rawalpindi region could be seen sitting in the jail superintendent’s chair and speaking to both politicians.

Search operation

Following the shifting of the PML-N leader, a search operation was started at Adiala jail during which all barracks and cells of the prison were scoured.

Nearly 200 additional personnel were called from the prisons in Attock, Jhelum and Chakwal for the search operation at Adiala, sources revealed.

ANF had registered a case against Abbasi and his accomplices in June 2012 under sections 9-C, 14 and 15 of the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) Act for misuse of 500kg of ephedrine.

The CNS Court of Rawalpindi sentenced Abbasi to lifetime in prison in the case just before the July 25 general elections.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by PAK NEWS - September 22, 2018 at 12:25 pm

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Sharifs will be offered neither deal nor concession: minister

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday rejected the notion that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members were ,released from jail, under a “deal” and that Saudi Arabia had played any role in it.

“Nawaz Sharif is not so important for Saudi Arabia that they will talk about him,” said Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry while speaking at a news conference a day after Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar were released from Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail after suspension of their sentences by the Islamabad High Court in the Avenfield properties case.

Editorial: ,Much room for NAB process against Sharifs to improve,

The IHC verdict coincided with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, giving rise to speculation in some circles that the Sharif family members’ release was a result of the Saudis’ request.

It may be recalled that Saudi Arabia was a guarantor in a deal between the Sharif family and then military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2000 under which the Sharifs were released from jail and allowed to leave the country.

PML-N terms Fawad Chaudhry’s remarks ‘irresponsible’ and asks him to focus on governance

“Those who say that Saudi Arabia would have talked [about Nawaz Sharif during Prime Minister Khan’s visit] actually don’t know what kind of relationship the Saudis have with Nawaz Sharif,” the information minister said without elaborating.

“There will be no deal and no dheel (concession) with them (the Sharifs),” he declared, adding that soon “they will be back to the place where they had been a few days back”. “Nawaz Sharif will be in and out of jail. This thing will continue,” he said, adding that the Sharifs had only been granted bail and the case was still pending against them.

“Those who were questioning the government for putting the names of the Sharifs on the Exit Control List (ECL) would have got the answer now. Had we not done so, they could have flown to London soon after their release, and where would we have looked for these princes then?” he said, justifying the decision of the federal cabinet to place the names of the Sharifs on the ECL during its first meeting.

“We will not allow Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz to leave Pakistan and at the same time we will not allow (former finance minister) Ishaq Dar, and Hassan and Hussain (the two sons of Mr Sharif) to stay out of Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry said that for them it was not important that how much time the Sharifs would spend in jail, as for the government bringing back the looted money of the people of this country was more important.

Lashing out at the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, he said it was heartening to see the PML-N people praising the courts. “So if the verdict is in their favour, all is well with the judiciary, and if it is against them, then the system is corrupt?” the minister said, asking the PML-N to decide once and for all as to what was their stance to end their confusion.

“In my opinion, the judiciary is free and independent,” he added.

Mr Chaudhry said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was also an independent institution and the government had no control over it. He said the government was looking for the loopholes due to which the Sharifs had been granted bail and soon they would rectify them and send them back to jail.

PML-N’s reaction

The PML-N termed the information minister’s remarks “irresponsible” and asked him to focus on “governance” instead of wasting time on petty matters.

Talking to Dawn, PML-N information secretary Mushahidullah Khan said that no party leader had given any statement about courts after the IHC verdict as they believed that Mr Sharif had only got “relief” and not justice.

Commenting on Mr Chaudhry’s statement regarding deal, he said the PML-N had not struck any deal when it could have done so in the past then why it would be doing it now. “Had we struck a deal, Nawaz Sharif would have been prime minister even today,” he said.

Mr Khan also ridiculed the minister’s justification for putting the names of the Sharifs on the ECL, terming the government’s act “vindictive”. He recalled that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were in London when the NAB court had announced the verdict and they returned home despite knowing that they would straightaway land in jail.

On the other hand, he said, the PML-N government did not put the name of Imran Khan and even President Arif Alvi on the ECL despite the fact that they were facing terrorism charges.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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SC to hear next week petition seeking Imran’s disqualification

ISLAMABAD: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will take up next week a petition seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to the cause-list issued by the apex court, the petition has been fixed before the bench comprising CJP Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan for Monday (Sept 24).

The petition was filed by Barrister Danyal Chaudhry in May last year soon after the apex court had constituted a six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe allegations of corruption against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and has been pending before court since then.

The petitioner was seeking a special oath to the JIT members for protecting them from getting influenced by the speeches of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan.

Plea was filed in May last year soon after the apex court constituted JIT to probe corruption allegations against Nawaz Sharif

The petition filed through Advocate Quasain Faisal Mufti had requested the apex court to restrain Imran Khan from activities which could influence the minds of the JIT members because his speeches and press releases could prejudice the investigation team. It also feared that if Mr Khan was not stopped from making political statements, it might allegedly result in derailment of democracy — a process running successfully and smoothly for a decade.

The petition had also requested the Supreme Court to order the Pakistan Electronic Media Regula­tory Authority (Pemra) not to allow broadcast by the electronic media of any material which jeopardised the sovereignty, integrity and solidarity of Pakistan and well-being and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.

The petitioner was of the opinion that people could not afford any turmoil or turbulence at this juncture when the country and its people were trying to bridge the trust and peace deficit, which over the years developed due to unbridled waves of terrorism that had lessened after remarkable efforts by the country’s armed forces, but not yet completely overcome.

International forces had been given the task of sabotaging the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor against which certain indigenous political forces due to their innocence acted as a catalyst to sabotage the historic and giant project — an emblem of long-lasting Pakistan-China friendship, the petition emphasised.

It recalled that due to the PTI’s 2014 sit-in in Islamabad, the Chinese president had deferred his visit to Pakistan, resulting in jeopardising different projects pertaining to the CPEC because of political uncertainty that negatively impacted the country’s financial markets. The foreign exchange reserves had also declined considerably as a result, it argued.

The petition alleged that Imran Khan was making speeches to undermine the Panama Papers case judgement and further influence the expected outcome of the JIT investigation. In some of his statements, it said, Mr Khan was making allegations against different institutions including but not limited to those who were bestowed upon with the responsibility to investigate the allegations as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The petition alleged that the conduct of Mr Khan amounted to destabilising the government and hampered the functioning of the federal government by weakening its writ and thus destabilising the confidence of the government in making decisions in respect of national and international affairs.

Besides other things, the petition had sought disqualification of Imran Khan for not disclosing his alleged loved child Teriyan White in his nomination papers for the general elections.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2018

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Saudi Arabia invited to become third strategic partner in CPEC: Fawad Chaudhry

Saudi Arabia is the first major country Pakistan has formally invited to become a partner in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhry said on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE), Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s main interest lies in cooperation with Saudi Arabia on matters of trade and security.

“A high-level coordination committee has has been constituted [to look into matters of trade and commerce] and it has the complete backing of the Saudi King, His Highness Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, as well as the Crown Prince [Mohammad bin Salman] and PM Khan,” Fawad Chaudhry said.

The information minister announced that high-level delegations from Saudi Arabia and UAE will visit Pakistan to discuss trade and security in October.

The Saudi ministers of treasury and power as well as business leaders will be in the delegation. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will finalise an important economic partnership during this visit, the information minister said.

He said that Saudi Arabia is the first country that Pakistan has invited to become a third partner in CPEC, and the projects that Saudi Arabia will be investing in will be worked out during the Saudi delegation’s visit, scheduled for the first week of October.

“We expect major investments from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“Our strategic cooperation has been revitalised. We have assured the Saudi leadership that we will continue to provide security to their country and provide strategic support wherever needed,” Chaudhry said.

The information minister said that in Abu Dhabi, the ,Pakistani delegation was received by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed,. Matters of mutual interest were discussed in detail during the meeting,” Chaudhry said.

“I should mention here that the relations between Pakistan and UAE and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had been frosty for the past few years, and this visit changed that,” the information minister said.

He added that the complications in the procurement of UAE visas and other matters will be resolved soon as the matters had come under discussion during the visit.

“The foreign office will soon send a proposal to UAE and it is expected that these issues will be resolved for the thousands of Pakistanis that are dwelling in the Emirates,” Chaudhry assured.

The information minister said that UAE would also help Pakistan in many projects, including the provision of fresh water to Karachi. “Delegations from UAE will come to Pakistan in October to discuss these matters,” he said.

“It is important to mention here that His Highness Muhammad bin Zayed has a great standing in GCC and Saudi Arabia, and his support will go a long way for Pakistan,” Chaudhry said.

’Nawaz will be in and out of jail’

Moving on to the matter of ,Nawaz Sharif’s release yesterday,, Chaudhry pointed out that the ousted prime minister had only secured bail, not been vindicated of the charges against him.

“Nawaz Sharif will be in and out of jail. The first thing I would like to do is address those people who kept asking why we put the Sharif family’s name on the exit-control list (ECL). I guess now they know why we did it: had we not, they could have flown to London yesterday evening, and where would we have looked for them then?”

Chaudhry also commented on the fact that the PML-N and its supporters had praised the judicial system yesterday.

“So if the verdict is in their favour, all is well with the judiciary, and if it is against them, then the system is corrupt?” the minister asked. “The PML-N should decide what their stance is so that their own confusion also subsides.”

He added: “I personally think that the judiciary is free and independent.”

The information minister also said that Imran Khan does not have a personal feud with the Sharifs, “The government is simply the custodian of the wealth of the Pakistani people and we need to bring the looted wealth back to the country.”

“Neither will we let Nawaz and Maryam leave the country nor will we let Ishaq Dar, Hasan and Hussain Nawaz stay abroad for much longer,” Chaudhry said, adding that the Sharif family will have to return the Pakistani people’s money back to them.

“Those who say that the PM visited Saudi Arabia to cut a deal regarding the Sharifs don’t understand how the Saudis’ relationship is with Nawaz Sharif. They don’t understand where the Sharif family stands with the Saudis,” the information minister added.

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Law will take its course, PTI responds to Nawaz judgement

LAHORE: Stating that the decision of the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) to suspend the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference was on a “procedural basis”, Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government fully respected the country’s courts.

In a statement issued by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s media department on Wednesday, Mr Chaudhry said that the country’s courts were functioning independently and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was also an independent and autonomous institution and the government had no role to play in its activities.

Mr Chaudhry, who is also the information secretary of the ruling PTI, said the government respected the IHC’s order like all its previous judgements. He said the government as well as the people of Pakistan wanted action against all those involved in corruption.

Bilawal terms the verdict ‘relief’ to Sharifs

“The people of Pakistan want that their looted wealth brought back to the country and the government is working to achieve this objective,” he asserted.

Stating that the nation was now aware about the character of the Sharif family, he alleged that the Sharifs were yet to provide evidence of its ownership of billions of rupees. He said the law would take its course and the case would further unfold.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed the IHC verdict a “relief to the Sharif family”.

In a statement issued from Bilawal House Karachi, the PPP chairman said that after the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the Sharif family was going through “testing times”.

“The PPP and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto fought for the independence of judiciary and were an integral part of this important movement. The PPP has also suffered at the hands of judicial verdicts but not once have we disrespected the courts,” he added.

The PPP chairman said he could not comment on the legal aspects of this verdict as courts were yet to decide on the appeals.

“We believe that our courts should not seem to be seen as part of any political victimisation. Rule of law and independence of judiciary are essential for any democratic system to thrive,” he concluded.

Similarly, PPP Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira in a separate statement said that as soon as the accountability court had announced 10-year jail term for the PML-N’s supreme leader, it was being expected that the (Islamabad) high court would bail out the ex-premier.

Mr Kaira said Nawaz Sharif had always been getting relief [from courts] and the it was repeated once again on Wednesday.

He said the grounds the IHC had made as basis in its verdict for releasing Nawaz Sharif would be known only in the detailed judgement.

Mr Kaira, however, said that so far only punishment had been suspended as the former prime minister would have to face the case and submit the money trail for the assets to which he had admitted ownership.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2018

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Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar released from Adiala jail after IHC suspends Avenfield sentences

Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, were released from Adiala jail on Wednesday after the Islamabad High Court suspended their respective prison sentences in ,the Avenfield corruption reference, earlier in the day.

PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif along with senior party leaders reached Adiala jail in the evening to receive Nawaz after the IHC issued their release orders.

A large number of PML-N supporters also gathered outside the prison to receive their supreme leader. Television footage showed a security vehicle driving the Sharifs through a massive crowd of supporters, some showering rose petals on the vehicle while others waved party flags and chanted slogans.

The Sharifs were escorted to Nur Khan Airbase, Chaklala, amid tight security from where they were flown to Lahore in a private aircraft. The convoy moved at a slow pace as the route was crowded with supporters and workers of PML-N, who took to the streets to celebrate the release of their leader.

Nawaz Sharif pictured at Nur Khan Airbase.

Nawaz Sharif pictured at Nur Khan Airbase.

The Sharifs reached Lahore later in the night where a large number of party supporters had gathered outside the Haj Terminal to welcome them. Subsequently, the Sharif family was escorted to their Jati Umra residence located in the outskirts of Lahore.

Earlier in the day, an IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petitions by the Sharifs and Capt Safdar against the verdict announced by the accountability court on July 6.

Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Raheel Munir, Mehtab Khan and Murtaza Javed Abbasi in the Jail Superintendent's room.

Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Raheel Munir, Mehtab Khan and Murtaza Javed Abbasi in the Jail Superintendent’s room.

The judges accepted the convicts’ petitions against the Avenfield verdict, ruling that the sentences would remain suspended until the final judgement on their appeals.

“For the reasons to be recorded later on, the petitions of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mohammad Safdar are allowed,” said Justice Minallah.

A date will now be fixed for the hearing of the appeals.

The court granted bail to Nawaz, Maryam and Capt Safdar and ordered them to pay Rs0.5 million as surety bonds.

PML-N workers present in the courtroom started cheering as the IHC’s verdict was announced. Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!” outside the court.

Leader of the Opposition and Nawaz’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, following the verdict took to Twitter to share a verse from Surah Al-Isra [17:81]: “Truth has come, and falsehood has departed. Indeed is falsehood, [by nature], ever bound to depart.”

,,

Javed Hashmi, a former PML-N member who quit the party for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, also reached Adiala jail after Nawaz’s release orders but was reportedly not allowed to enter.

The development is the latest twist in a series of court cases involving the former prime minister, beginning with his ouster from office last year in the ,Panama Papers verdict, to facing multiple corruption references in the accountability court.

The accountability court on July 6 had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau, handing the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with NAB.

A PML-N supporter celebrates following the court ruling. —AP

A PML-N supporter celebrates following the court ruling. —AP

His daughter was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau.

According to the verdict, she “aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father”. “The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus,” the judgement had noted.

Nawaz’s son-in-law was given 1 year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abeting Nawaz and Maryam.

Final arguments

The NAB’s special prosecutor Mohammad Akram Qureshi concluded his final arguments today, following which the high court reserved the verdict in the case.

Qureshi argued today that after the fixation of appeals against the conviction of the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference, the IHC could not have entertained petitions seeking suspension of sentence.

He further said that since Maryam had prepared a forged declaration of trust in order to rescue her father, “she was equally responsible as she connived to dodge the legal course”.

When the court asked him if the forged documents had led to her conviction for owning assets beyond means, the prosecutor replied: “Maryam hatched the conspiracy.”

Qureshi further argued that Maryam was living with her father as a dependent and so “the properties in her name presumably belonged to her father”.

Justice Athar Minallah remarked that “the NAB, after conducting thorough investigation, couldn’t bring any evidence of Nawaz Sharif’s ownership of the Avenfield apartments, but you want us to admit his ownership on mere presumption”.

Qureshi responded that the “law of evidence empowers the court to presume facts in certain situations”.

The prosecutor was reminded that there is room for giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused, and that the precedents of the apex court bound the bureau to follow certain procedures in order to shift the burden of proof on the accused persons.

At this, Qureshi said that “since the properties belong to a foreign jurisdiction, therefore, it is a distinguished case and these were not applicable to this case”.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Haris — the lead defence counsel — said that since the NAB law relates to foreign properties, the stance taken by NAB is without any legal force.

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Interim relief for Sharifs as IHC suspends Avenfield sentences; grants bail to Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar

The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday suspended the prison sentences handed to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar in ,the Avenfield corruption reference,.

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb was hearing the appeals by the Sharifs and Capt Safdar against the verdict announced by the accountability court on July 6. The judges accepted the convicts’ petitions against the Avenfield verdict, ruling that the sentences would remain suspended until the final judgement on their appeals.

“For the reasons to be recorded later on, the petition of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mohammad Safdar are allowed,” said Justice Minallah.

A date will now be fixed for the hearing of the appeals.

The court granted bail to Nawaz, Maryam and Capt Safdar and ordered them to pay Rs0.5 million as surety bonds.

PML-N workers present in the courtroom started cheering as the IHC’s verdict was announced. Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!” outside the court.

Leader of the Opposition and Nawaz’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, following the verdict took to Twitter to share a verse from Surah Al-Isra [17:81]: “Truth has come, and falsehood has departed. Indeed is falsehood, [by nature], ever bound to depart.”

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The development is the latest twist in a series of court cases involving the former prime minister, beginning with his ouster from office last year in the ,Panama Papers verdict, to facing multiple corruption references in the accountability court.

The accountability court on July 6 had announced the verdict in the Avenfield properties corruption reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau, handing the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif 10 years as jail time for owning assets beyond known income and 1 year for not cooperating with NAB.

His daughter was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and 1 year for non-cooperation with the bureau.

According to the verdict, she “aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father”. “The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus,” the judgement had noted.

Nawaz’s son-in-law was given 1 year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB, and aiding and abeting Nawaz and Maryam.

Final arguments

The NAB’s special prosecutor Mohammad Akram Qureshi concluded his final arguments today, following which the high court reserved the verdict in the case.

Qureshi argued today that after the fixation of appeals against the conviction of the Sharif family in the Avenfield reference, the IHC could not have entertained petitions seeking suspension of sentence.

He further said that since Maryam had prepared a forged declaration of trust in order to rescue her father, “she was equally responsible as she connived to dodge the legal course”.

When the court asked him if the forged documents had led to her conviction for owning assets beyond means, the prosecutor replied: “Maryam hatched the conspiracy.”

Qureshi further argued that Maryam was living with her father as a dependent and so “the properties in her name presumably belonged to her father”.

Justice Athar Minallah remarked that “the NAB, after conducting thorough investigation, couldn’t bring any evidence of Nawaz Sharif’s ownership of the Avenfield apartments, but you want us to admit his ownership on mere presumption”.

Qureshi responded that the “law of evidence empowers the court to presume facts in certain situations”.

The prosecutor was reminded that there is a room of giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused, and that the precedents of the apex court bound the bureau to follow certain procedures in order to shift the burden of proof on accused persons.

At this, Qureshi said that “since the properties belong to a foreign jurisdiction, therefore, it is a distinguished case and these were not applicable to this case”.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Haris — the lead defence counsel — said that since the NAB law relates to foreign properties, the stance taken by NAB is without any legal force.

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Politicians react to IHC’s suspension of the Sharifs’ sentences

PML-N supporters chant ‘Go Imran Go’ to celebrate IHC order

In a move that has stirred the political scene, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has suspended the prison sentences of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and Captain (r) Safdar in the Avenfield case, granting them ,interim relief,.

Following the verdict, the court granted bail to Nawaz, Maryam and Capt Safdar and ordered them to pay Rs0.5 million as surety bonds.

Marriyum Aurangzeb bursts into tears upon hearing the IHC’s verdict.

What led the IHC to suspend the punishment given by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) court? Will the Sharifs go back to jail after an ‘interim relief’? Analysts weigh in:

‘NAB was not able to answer questions’

Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, PML-N

“This case had been going on for a while and the whole nation was listening to what the judges had to say during the proceedings. NAB was not able to answer their questions.

I wish this day would have come sooner and Mian Nawaz Sharif would have been able to spend some time with his wife ailing wife and would have gotten a chance to take care of her in her final days. However, this is all fate.

Let’s all pray that we find Mian Nawaz Sharif amongst us soon.”

‘The Sharif family has still not proven where their wealth came from’

Fawad Chaudhry, PTI

“The Sharif family has still not proven where their wealth worth billions has come from.

This verdict has been given on procedural basis.

Once the matter moves forward I am sure justice will find its way.”

“This is not unexpected’

Qamar Zaman Kaira, PPP

“When the Avenfield verdict first came out, it was already expected that if there is an appeal in the case, the Sharif family might be set free.

This is not unexpected as Nawaz Sharif has always been given relief in the past, same is the case today.

We will know more once the detailed verdict comes out.”

‘Even a blind a person would now see that these cases do not have legal standing’

Ahsan Iqbal

PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal reacts to IHC order

“I thank God that Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar have succeeded today.

This trial holds a lot of importance as even a blind person would [now] see that these cases had no legal or constitutional standing.

These cases were political and meant for pre-poll rigging and meant to sideline Nawaz Sharif from the election race so that Imran Khan can get a fake victory.”

‘We had hope in Justice Minallah’

Mohammad Zubair, PML-N

“Justice Athar Minallah [who presided over the bench today] was the spokesperson of Justice (r) Iftikhar Chaudhry when the lawyers movement was underway. I will not praise Justice (r) Chaudhry but Justice Minallah is an excellent judge. We were hopeful when he was on the bench.

Pakistan has had a history of judgements which courts cannot defend later. We are not the first in Pakistan who have criticised court order, there are examples from Maulvi Tamizuddin to Nusrat Bhutto. There was no [corruption] case here, we respect the judiciary’s decision.”

‘Sharifs destination is still Adiala Jail’

Faisal Javed, PTI

“Firstly, I want to point out that the conviction and corruption charges are still very much there. This IHC judgement simply suspends their punishment. Their destination is still Adiala Jail because I am confident they will go back.

The Sharif’s were not able to establish a source of income or money trail. So this celebration will be shortlived like the April 20 celebration where they looked equally happy.”

‘This order once again raises questions on accountability in Pakistan’

Nafisa Shah, PPP

“[I] am not sure whether today’s court order on suspending Panama punishment is about law or politics, but the system has always bailed the Sharifs out.

Of course this order once again raises many questions on accountability laws and processes in Pakistan.”

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Sharifs, Captain Safdar shifted back to Adiala jail as five-day parole ends

As the five-day parole granted to them by the Punjab government ended on Monday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law were taken back to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail to resume their sentences in the Avenfield apartments reference.

A convoy of cars carrying the trio left Jati Umra — the Sharif family residence in Lahore — for the city’s old airport, where they were boarded on a special plane for Islamabad, sources told DawnNewsTV. Upon landing in the capital, they were taken directly to the prison.

Cars carrying Sharif family members leave Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

Cars carrying Sharif family members leave Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

Sharif, Maryam and Safdar were ,released on parole last week, after the death of three-time former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in London. The parole was to end today at 4pm.

Before leaving for the airport, the three visited the graves of Kulsoom, her father-in-law Mian Sharif and brother-in-law Abbas Sharif and offered fateha, DawnNewsTV reported.

Begum Kulsoom had undergone several surgeries and chemotherapy treatment at a private hospital in London after being diagnosed with lymphoma in August 2017. She suffered a heart attack in mid-June and was put on a life-support machine. In the first week of August, her condition improved and she was taken off from the ventilator. However, her condition deteriorated again on Sept 9 and she breathed her last on Sept 11.

Her sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz along with their uncle Shahbaz Sharif and other party leaders offered her funeral prayers in London before her body was shifted to Lahore. After her second funeral, which was attended by her husband, daughter and other relatives besides workers and leaders of various political parties, she was laid to rest near the graves of her father-in-law and brother-in-law at Jati Umra on Sept 14.

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SC rejects NAB’s ‘frivolous’ application against IHC decision to hear Sharifs’ petitions

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an ,application of the National Accoun­tability Bureau, (NAB) against the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) Sept 10 decision to proceed with the petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members seeking the suspension of sentences awarded by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference.

In its application, NAB had pleaded the apex court to direct the high court to commence hearing of the Sharifs’ appeals against their conviction, instead of their petitions seeking suspension of sentences passed by the accountability court.

While rejecting NAB’s request today, the SC imposed a fine of Rs20,000 on the bureau for filing a “frivolous” petition.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar directed the NAB counsel to submit the fine in the dams fund initiated by the apex court.

“It is the high court’s prerogative [to decide] whether it wants to hear the appeals against the conviction first or the petitions seeking suspension of the sentences,” the top judge remarked.

The Supreme Court cannot interfere in this jurisdiction of the high court, he added.

NAB’s application

On July 6, Judge Mohammad Bashir had announced a 10-year imprisonment for Sharif, seven for his daughter Maryam Nawaz and one year for son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield reference.

The appeals filed by the Sharifs against their conviction are still pending in the high court. In the meanwhile, they filed a set of petitions in the IHC seeking suspension of sentences handed by the accountability court.

When the high court decided to hear the appeals against the conviction, the Sharifs moved applications for the early hearing of their petitions filed against the conviction. The high court accepted the applications and decided to commence hearing the petitions from Sept 11.

In its application, NAB chairman Javed Iqbal had argued that it was not just and reasonable for the high court to pass an order without issuing a notice to the state.

The high court could not review its own decision of hearing the appeals, the NAB application contended, adding that the high court was not righteous in passing an order in the connected matters to proceed with the cases pertaining to the suspension of the conviction.

The NAB application argued that the petitioners had not provided any cogent reasons for seeking the relief, besides the relief being sought was in contravention with the spirit of the provisions of Section 32 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

There is no justification for postponement of the main appeals against the conviction by taking up instead the applications for the suspension of the conviction when the appeals were already fixed for hearing on Sept 10, the NAB application said.

The proceedings in the appellate court could not be controlled by the whims of the convicts [Sharifs], the application said.

Therefore, the decision of the high court to proceed with the suspension of the conviction cases was liable to be set aside, the NAB application argued.

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Sharifs being shifted back to Adiala jail as five-day parole comes to an end

As the five-day parole granted to them by the Punjab government nears its end, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law are being taken back to Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail to resume their sentences in the Avenfield apartments reference.

A convoy of cars carrying the trio left Jati Umra — the Sharif family residence in Lahore — for the old airport, where they were made to board a special plane for Islamabad, sources told DawnNewsTV. Upon landing in the capital, they will be taken to the prison.

Cars carrying Sharif family members leave Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

Cars carrying Sharif family members leave Jati Umra. — DawnNewsTV

Sharif, Maryam and Safdar were ,released on parole last week, after the death of three-time former first lady Begum Kulsoom Nawaz in London. The parole will end today at 4pm.

Before leaving for the airport, the three visited the graves of Kulsoom, her father-in-law Mian Sharif and brother-in-law Abbas Sharif and offered fateha, DawnNewsTV reported.

Begum Kulsoom had undergone several surgeries and chemotherapy treatment at a private hospital in London after being diagnosed with lymphoma in August 2017. She suffered a heart attack in mid-June and was put on a life-support machine. In the first week of August, her condition improved and she was taken off from the ventilator. However, her condition deteriorated again on Sept 9 and she breathed her last on Sept 11.

Her sons Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz along with their uncle Shahbaz Sharif and other party leaders offered her funeral prayers in London before her body was shifted to Lahore. After her second funeral, which was attended by her husband, daughter and other relatives besides workers and leaders of various political parties, she was laid to rest near the graves of her father-in-law and brother-in-law at Jati Umra on Sept 14.

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NAB challenges IHC decision to hear Sharifs’ petitions

ISLAMABAD: National Accoun­tability Bureau (NAB) chairman Javed Iqbal approached the Supreme Court on Saturday with a request to set aside the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) Sept 10 decision to proceed with the petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for the suspension of sentences awarded by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference.

The NAB chairman approached the SC also on Sept 1 when the accountability watchdog challenged the IHC’s Aug 7 order of transferring two corruption references against Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Muhammad Safdar from accountability court Judge Mohammad Bashir to Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik.

In the fresh application before the apex court, which was drafted by advocates M. Akram Qureshi and Jahanzaib Bharwana, NAB pleaded before the court to direct the high court to commence hearing of the Sharifs’ appeals against their conviction.

The bureau wants the high court to commence hearing of Sharifs’ appeals instead

On July 6, Judge Bashir announced 10-year imprisonment for Mr Sharif, seven for Ms Maryam and one year for Mr Safdar in the Avenfield reference.

The two other references against the Sharifs — Al-Azizia/Hill Metal and Flagship Investment — are now being heard by Judge Malik.

The appeals filed by the Sharifs against their conviction are still pending in the high court. In the meanwhile, they filed a set of petitions in the high court seeking suspension of sentences passed by the accountability court.

When the high court decided to hear the appeals against the conviction, the Sharifs moved applications for the early hearing of their petitions filed against the conviction. The high court accepted the applications and decided to commence hearing petitions from Sept 11.

In its application, the NAB chairman argued that it was not just and reasonable for the high court to pass an order without issuing a notice to the state.

The high court could not review its own decision of hearing the appeals, the NAB application contended, adding that the high court was not righteous in passing an order in the connected matters to proceed with the cases pertaining to the suspension of the conviction.

The NAB application argued that the petitioners had not provided any cogent reasons for seeking the relief, besides the relief being sought was in contravention with the spirit of the provisions of Section 32 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

There is no justification for postponement of the main appeals against the conviction by taking instead the applications for the suspension of the conviction when the appeals were already fixed for hearing on Sept 10, the NAB application says.

The application emphasised that the high court had gone beyond its jurisdiction by postponing the hearing of the arguments in the appeals, adding it was not reasonable to postpone because of the personal inability of the counsel for the convicts.

The proceedings in the appellate court could not be controlled by the whims of convicts/Sharifs, the NAB application said.

Therefore, the decision of the high court to proceed with the suspension of the conviction cases was liable to be set aside, the NAB application emphasised.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2018

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Via DAWN.com

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