Court issues arrest warrant for Nawaz

-Rejects Nawaz’s exemption plea
-Directs authorities to arrest and produce Sharif before Court
-Nawaz’s medical reports termed as ‘opinion of a doctor’, not issued by hospital

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has rejected the exemption plea of the former premier Nawaz Sharif and released his non-bailable arrest warrants in Al-Azizia and Avenfield cases, on Tuesday.
The pleas of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for seeking his exemption from personal appearance in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield references have been rejected by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The high court directed concerned authorities to arrest and produce Sharif in the hearings of the corruption cases. In its verdict, the court stated that Nawaz Sharif does not deserve bail and relief anymore.
Justice Kayani remarked that Nawaz’s medical reports were the “opinion of a doctor” and had not been issued by a hospital. “So far, no hospital has said that it is unable to admit and treat Nawaz because of Covid-19,” the judge said.
Meanwhile, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Bharwana stated that the court had directed Nawaz to surrender and that his appeals were inadmissible.
To this, the court remarked that Nawaz’s bail in the Al Azizia reference had expired and that it was a well-known fact that he had not appeared before the court. The NAB prosecutor replied that under the National Accountability Ordinance, a proclaimed offender could be jailed for up to three years. “The court has the power to either dismiss the appeal or appoint a lawyer for the offender.”
He maintained that giving relief to fugitives would affect the judicial system, adding that the court had already provided the former premier the chance to surrender.
The court remarked that Nawaz had not yet been declared a proclaimed offender and asked how the appeal would be heard without “listening to the other side”.
The NAB prosecutor replied that the court could appoint a legal representative for this purpose. The same principle would then apply to the appeals filed by Nawaz, the court observed.
Earlier in the month, the IHC had directed Nawaz to surrender before the court and appear at the next hearing scheduled for September 10. Shortly after, Nawaz had filed a review petition asking the court to forgo the requirement.
At the next hearing on September 10, the court had questioned whether the appeal of a person, who has been declared a proclaimed offender in a separate case, could be heard by the court and had adjourned the hearing.
Nawaz had left for London in November 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for medical treatment.
He had submitted an undertaking to the court, citing his record of facing the law and justice, and that he would return within four weeks or as soon as he was declared healthy and fit to travel by doctors.
He was also given bail in the Al Azizia Mills corruption case in which he was serving a seven-year prison sentence in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, before he left for London.
Last week, an accountability court had declared Nawaz a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles reference and initiated the process to confiscate his properties and directed the NAB to make his arrest through Interpol.
While separating Nawaz’s case, Judge Mohammad Azam Khan of the accountability court of Islamabad also indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and other accused persons in the Toshakhana reference.
Moreover, Nawaz Sharif’s appeal for attending the hearings through representative was also rejected.
Earlier on September 10, the IHC had ruled that it will decide on September 15 whether former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will get any relief or not.
A two-judge bench comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the appeals filed by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo against his conviction in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield references.
In the hearing, Justice Kayani had remarked, “Nawaz Sharif didn’t surrender, the game is over.”
The bench had questioned how can the court proceed with his plea without his surrendering before it and directed both his lawyer Khawaja Haris and the NAB prosecutor to forward their arguments in this regard on next hearing.
On September 9, the PML-N supremo had moved two miscellaneous applications in the IHC through his lawyer Khawaja Haris for seeking exemption from personal appearance before it on medical grounds. He stated that he was unable to appear in court because of his ill-health.
At the previous hearing, the IHC had directed Sharif to appear before it on September 10 and warned that it will declare him an absconder over failure to turn up. It also warned of action against those who acted as guarantors to secure the bail for the PML-N leader. However, the former premier did not appear before the court.
On the same day, an accountability court had also declared Nawaz Sharif a ‘proclaimed offender’ in Toshakhana reference in Islamabad besides indicting four accused persons including former president Asif Ali Zardari and former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani.