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    Nawaz Sharif’s Legal Challenge: IHC Questions Assets

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    IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq expressed skepticism over the accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income, raising questions about potential corruption. The remarks surfaced during the hearing of the petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, challenging his conviction in the Al Azizia and Avenfield references.

    A two-member division bench, led by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, deliberated on the appeals. Notably, in July 2018, Nawaz Sharif received a 10-year jail sentence in the Avenfield reference based on a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) filing, following a Supreme Court order. Additionally, the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference led to a seven-year jail term, coupled with fines amounting to Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million, handed down on December 24, 2018.

    Nawaz Sharif was declared a proclaimed offender in both references in December 2020, departing for London under the court’s permission for medical treatment. However, he returned to Pakistan last month after nearly four years in self-imposed exile.

    In a pivotal move, Nawaz filed applications seeking the restoration of his appeals against convictions, emphasizing that the dismissals occurred due to non-prosecution while he sought medical treatment abroad. The former Prime Minister pleaded for the court to consider his appeals on merit, contending that his petitions were dismissed during his absence for medical reasons.

    Accompanied by his legal team, including former Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar, Nawaz Sharif appeared before the IHC amid tight security.

    Today’s Hearing:

    During the hearing, PML-N’s counsel, Amjad Pervez, apprised the bench of the Supreme Court’s establishment of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe corruption allegations against Nawaz Sharif. Pervez highlighted the apex court’s April 20, 2017 order outlining the JIT’s formation and mandate. He emphasized that the 2017 verdict empowered the JIT to investigate the matter, leading to the filing of references after the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz in July 2017.

    In response to Justice Aurangzeb’s inquiry about directions given to the NAB chairman in the verdict, Pervez outlined that the NAB was instructed to file references within six weeks, with a concurrent directive to the relevant court to announce decisions within the same timeframe. Pervez also noted the involvement of other individuals, including Maryam Nawaz, Captain (retired) Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, and Hassan Nawaz, in the Avenfield reference.

    Chief Justice Aamer Farooq observed the NAB’s attempt to establish Maryam Nawaz as the beneficial owner of the Avenfield apartments. However, Pervez argued that the NAB failed to substantiate this claim, asserting that the burden of proof rested on the prosecution to establish Nawaz’s ownership and his children’s benamidar status in the case.

    Following these arguments, Chief Justice Aamer Farooq adjourned the hearing until November 29 (Wednesday).

    This legal saga continues to unfold, with the IHC Chief Justice’s remarks adding a layer of scrutiny to the proceedings. As the court delves into the intricacies of the case, the nation awaits further developments in this high-profile matter.

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