SC verdict won't affect Nawaz Sharif's planned return to Pakistan, says his legal team
On his return to the country, the 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party supremo will face all cases in respect of the courts, Geo News reported
Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's planned return to the country from London on October 21 will not be affected by the Supreme Court's recent judgement on the amendments to the anti-graft laws, his legal team has said.
On his return to the country, the 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party supremo will face all cases in respect of the courts, Geo News reported on Sunday.
In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court on Friday scrapped the recent amendments made to anti-graft laws by the previous coalition govt led by the PML-N and restored corruption cases against public office holders, including Nawaz, who was one of the major beneficiaries of the changes.
Nawaz, who is set to return on October 21, ending his self-exile in London, where he has lived since 2019, may see the restoration of a Toshakhana case against him. In 2020, an accountability court declared him a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles case.
Sharif is accused of obtaining luxury cars from the treasury house by paying just 15 per cent of the price of these vehicles.
Nawaz left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission allowing him to go abroad for his treatment. But he never returned to Pakistan where he was convicted of corruption and jailed.
He was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018. He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills case before he was allowed to proceed to London in 2019 on "medical grounds".
In a crucial meeting of the PML-N on Saturday, the party’s legal team gave Nawaz Sharif a comprehensive briefing in the wake of the apex court's verdict striking down amendments to accountability laws, the Geo News reported.
The team — comprising former law minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, advocate Amjad Pervez, and PML-N Deputy Secretary General Attaullah Tarar — gave Nawaz legal clearance for his return to Pakistan.
"No case is a hindrance in his way of return to Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif’s return date remains the same. The date has been announced. He is coming back on the same date," Tarar said.
Former law minister Azam, who is currently in London, said upon returning Nawaz will face all cases in respect of the courts.
"He will appear in the courts smiling and he will be vindicated on merit. There is no substance in the false cases made against him...We will not attack courts and we will not do anything to evade the course of justice as was seen recently. There will be open hearings and the truth will be established," he said, taking an apparent dig at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan.
According to the Geo News report, Nawaz has appointed Azam to work out the legal procedures for his smooth return.
Quoting sources, the report said Pakistan's former Attorney General Advocate Irfan Qadir will also be part of Nawaz's legal team that will execute follow-up actions.
The team of counsel would take the ultimate decision on Nawaz's bail after consultations this week, the report said, quoting sources.
The coalition government led by Nawaz had made several changes in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance of 1999 through the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Act 2022, which PTI chief Khan challenged in June last year.
These included reducing the term of the NAB chairman and prosecutor general to three years, limiting the anti-graft watchdog's jurisdiction to cases involving over Rs 500 million, and transferring all pending inquiries, investigations, and trials to the relevant authorities.
Besides Nawaz, the restoration of the old anti-graft law by the Supreme Court may have implications of varying levels for several politicians, including former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-premiers Shehbaz Sharif, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
They all benefited under the new law as the trial of those accused with less than Rs 500 million of alleged corruption was stopped.
After the amendments were made, dozens of cases against powerful politicians and their relatives were sent back by the NAB courts last year.
Published: 17 Sep 2023, 6:43 PM