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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court issued bailable warrants for the arrest of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for not attending proceedings of a petition against PML-N’s jailed supremo Nawaz Sharif that sought action against him under treason charges for allegedly trying to defame state institutions in an interview to Dawn.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, ordered the court’s office to ensure serving of notices to Nawaz Sharif through the superintendent of Adiala Jail and to journalist Cyril Almeida through the SSP Operations, Islamabad.

As the bench resumed hearing, no one appeared on behalf of the three respondents, annoying the judges.

Justice Naqvi observed that Mr Abbasi should have attended the court as he was present during the previous hearing on June 29 and was supposed to appear in all subsequent proceedings.

The petitioner’s counsel, Azhar Siddique, told the bench that Mr Abbasi was reportedly in the city to run his campaign for a by-poll.

The bench issued bailable arrest warrants for Mr Abbasi subject to furnishing bonds of Rs1 million. It issued fresh notices to Mr Sharif and Mr Almeida asking them to appear before the court on Sept 24.

Amina Malik, of the Civil Society Network, had filed the petition pleading that Mr Sharif, in an interview to Dawn on May 11, had said that “those who attacked a hotel in Mumbai actually belonged to Pakistan”.

The petitioner said a meeting of the National Security Council was held to discuss the ‘misleading’ media statement of Mr Shrif and after the meeting then PM Abbasi met Mr Sharif just to convey to him the concerns of the military leadership. She said Mr Abbasi’s move was a violation of his oath as he was bound not to allow his personal interest to influence his official conduct.

She contended that the disqualified premier had committed sedition by rejecting the statement of the NSC and was liable to an action under the constitution and the Pakistan Penal Code.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018