After much deliberation, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's lead counsel Khawaja Haris on Tuesday rejoined his legal team for the corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Sharif family.
On June 11, Haris had recused himself from fighting the ex-PM's case in reaction to the Supreme Court's directives to the accountability court to wrap up the references within 30 days and to also conduct hearings on a daily basis, including Saturdays if need be.
Haris had said that it was not possible for him to pursue these cases under such pressure and also expressed his inability to work on Saturdays and Sundays — which are official weekly court holidays.
Following this development, accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir had observed that the SC's remarks regarding weekend hearings were not part of the written order. The judge had also advised Nawaz to convince Haris to return to the case.
Haris today appeared in the accountability court and rejoined Nawaz's defence team — a decision that was welcomed by Justice Bashir and NAB prosecutors.
He submitted an application before the accountability court judge to express certain reservations on the Supreme Court's June 10 orders, which had led to him distancing himself from the case.
Haris argued that he has been dealing with the Panama Papers case for several years and did not want the case's ground realities to be overlooked.
He said that the case is a complicated one and requires thousands of documents to be perused on a daily basis before reiterating that he cannot pursue the case efficiently if hearings are scheduled on Saturdays.
The judge, however, assured the lead counsel that the SC had left on him how to conduct and regulate the proceedings.
NAB prosecutor Muzaffar Abbasi did mention that it had been 10 month since the proceedings in references against the Sharif family started and that the court had already sought extension thrice.
The prosecutor also pointed out that under Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance, a reference should be disposed off within 30 days.
At this, Haris said that the prosecution itself has not closed its evidence in the trio of references and that it had taken them nine months to do so in just the Avenfield properties reference. "I do not want to blame the NAB for delay since it is a complicated case," he added.
Nawaz granted one-week exemption
Nawaz, on Haris' request, was granted a one-week exemption from appearing in the hearings as he is currently in London due to his wife Kulsoom Nawaz's ailing health.
The former PM was allowed to take a break from the corruption references and allowed to travel to London on the orders of the Supreme Court. Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz — also fighting corruption references — were scheduled to return back to Pakistan after Eid.
However, Kulsoom, the former first lady, suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday and was placed on ventilator, following which, Nawaz decided to postpone his return.
Haris' request, on behalf of Nawaz, was accepted unopposed by the NAB, which was further informed that the PML-N supreme leader would return to the country on Saturday and appear before the court the Monday after (June 25).