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LAHORE: Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday said the announcement of the accountability court’s decision in Avenfield case against the Sharif family should be delayed till the return of disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

He said Mr Sharif could appear before the court if announcement of the verdict was delayed. The former PM was talking to the media at the Lahore High Court after attending proceedings of his case against lifetime disqualification inflicted on him by an appellate tribunal restraining him from contesting from NA-57 Murree.

Mr Abbasi said that Mr Sharif was unable to return to the country due to critical health of his wife Kulsoom Nawaz. He further said he always respected decisions of courts and would accept the decision in his case whether it was against him. He said his counsel had presented all the evidence before the court.

He also said torrential rains were not new in the country as many cities faced problems due to massive rainwater. The caretaker government could not be entirely held responsible for the accumulation of rainwater in Lahore as it had no experience. However, he claimed that Shahbaz Sharif had appropriately controlled such situations during his stint.

Earlier, a division bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi summoned the returning officer concerned along with the record of Mr Abbasi’s case.

During the hearing, Abbasi’s counsel Khwaja Ahmad Tariq Rahim argued that all documents were enclosed with the nomination papers filed before the returning officer. Neither concealment nor any changes had been made by the petitioner in the nomination papers.

Lawyer of the objector told the bench that Mr Abbasi did not disclose details of his shares in Airblue and Pine Inn Hotel in Murree. He said there were discrepancies in the affidavits of the former prime minister filed with the two nomination papers.

The bench directed the returning officer to appear in person on Thursday (today) along with complete record of the case.

The bench also deferred till today an identical matter of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Fawad Chaudhry’s lifetime disqualification by the same appellate tribunal from NA-67 Jhelum.

In both cases, the bench had provisionally allowed Abbasi and Chaudhry to contest the polls by suspending the disqualification decisions of the tribunal.

Talking to the media, Chaudhry said Nawaz Sharif had facilitated his sons’ escape from the country and now he too would not return. Nobody would have been given as much time as courts had given to Nawaz to prove his innocence. He said if Sharif did not trust Pakistani courts he should approach Delhi courts for justice.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018