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ISLAMABAD: The accountability court of Islamabad on Monday deferred trial proceedings in the Al-Azizia reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif since the defence counsel insisted that the court should wait for the outcome of pending application that challenged the trial court’s order of Aug 30.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik adjourned the hearing till Tuesday (today) after the defence counsel, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, informed the court about the pending application before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Khawaja Haris said that the IHC had issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for Sept 4 and he could not continue cross-examination until his application was decided.

The prosecution requested the court to continue the proceedings in the case since the IHC had not issued any restraining order so far.

The judge remarked that the defence counsel might resume cross-examination of Wajid Zia, head of Supreme Court-constituted JIT (joint investigation team), from any other portion, leaving the disputed area untouched until the IHC’s proceedings.

Khawaja Haris, however, said that he had previously cooperated in the similar manner and it had affected proceedings before the IHC, therefore, he would not proceed.

If NAB was so concerned about a day’s adjournment, one of the prosecutors should have attended the IHC’s proceedings on Tuesday, he said, adding that one of the prosecutors was present in the IHC building but he did not come to the courtroom during the proceedings.

NAB’s prosecutor Wasiq Malik replied that the NAB prosecutor would appear before the IHC after receiving a notice from it. To this, Khawaja Haris reminded him that previously NAB did not follow this practice and its prosecutors would remain present in the IHC whenever an order was challenged or a petition was filed by the Sharif family.

At the last hearing, the counsel for Mr Sharif objected to the way accountability judge recorded the testimony of Mr Zia in the Al-Azizia reference. Khawaja Haris alleged that Judge Malik made a change in Mr Zia’s statement on the instance of NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi during the witness’s cross-examination without providing him an opportunity to contest the prosecutor’s assertion.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018