MARYAM Nawaz, wearing a black dress emblazoned with a portrait of her father, pictured outside the court.—White Star
MARYAM Nawaz, wearing a black dress emblazoned with a portrait of her father, pictured outside the court.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz said on Friday that her father and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had rejected the offers for a deal, commonly known as NRO, by Prime Minister Imran Khan since the conditions were unacceptable.

Clad in a black dress with an image of her father and slogan of ‘Free Nawaz Sharif’ embossed on her kurta, Ms Nawaz was replying to questions put by reporters on the premises of the accountability court.

The court rejected an application filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking initiation of proceedings against Ms Nawaz for submitting a ‘fake’ trust deed in the Avenfield properties reference.

Asked whether she had been in “backchannel negotiations” on her father’s predicament, Ms Nawaz confirmed reports about her meeting with some “quarters”, but clarified that those she had met were not from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Court dismisses NAB plea for proceedings against PML-N leader for submitting fake trust deed in Avenfield properties reference

“Had we compromised on principles, it would have been tantamount to backstabbing the people as well as democracy in Pakistan,” she said. “Nawaz Sharif feels that he is more dignified despite being in jail than ‘the selected’ [PM] who is being disgraced on a daily basis,” she said. The PML-N leader said PM Khan was not “capable of giving NRO to anyone; he is not able to keep a minister on a portfolio even for 24 hours,” she said.

About the arrest of top PML-N leadership, she said it would not deter the resolve of the people of Pakistan. She said that PML-N had secured millions of votes in elections and asked whether the government would start arresting the party voters in the next phase.

She accused the government of imposing the worst ever censorship on the media in the country, saying it had never happened even under martial law regimes. She said the right of expression had been suspended and added that if the government was doing good then there was no need to suppress dissenting voices.

“This censorship is also damaging the media’s credibility. The politicians would regain their authority some day but it will be difficult for the media to reclaim its lost credibility,” she said.

Ms Nawaz said the PML-N had exposed facts related to the conviction of Nawaz Sharif and alleged that the judge Arshad Malik was being blackmailed due to his immoral video.

“With the disclosure about judge Malik and his subsequent affidavit, it has been proved that Nawaz Sharif was innocent,” she said and requested the superior judiciary to order his release as “it is injustice to detain him after the truth has been revealed”.

Court proceedings

When the accountability court took up NAB’s application, Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said Sub Section A of Section 30 of the National Accountability Ordinance read, “On pronouncement of judgement, the court shall have the jurisdiction and power to take cognizance of any offence committed in the course of the investigating or trial of a case by any officer, any witness, including an expert, who has tendered false evidence in the case.”

However, according to Sub-Section ‘C’ of the Section 30, the prosecution may file the application within 30 days after pronouncement of a judgement as the sub-section reads, “The proceedings under sub-section (a) may be initiated by the Court on its own accord at any time after the decision of the case or, in the event that there is an appeal, after the decision thereof, or on an application made by the [prosecution] [or the accused tried by the Court] within thirty days.”

Mr Abbasi explained that since the accountability court, in an interim order of on Nov 11, 2017, had deleted the charge of submitting false trust deed from the charge-sheet, the sub-section related to the time limits was not relevant in this case.

On the other hand, Mohammad Amjad Pervaiz, the counsel for Ms Nawaz, argued that the prosecutor had misinterpreted the law. He said NAB could have filed the application only within 30 days after the pronouncement of the judgement. “Prima facie, they started thinking about filing the application after the release of the video of the accountability judge,” he said.

Mr Pervaiz cited several judgments of the superior courts related to time limitations and said since an appeal against the order of the accountability court was pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC), the trial court lacked jurisdiction to entertain NAB’s application.

Judge Mohammad Bashir dismissed the application with the observation that the court might take up the matter after a decision of the appeal against the verdict passed in the Avenfield reference.

Judge Bashir on July 6 last year had convicted Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz in Avenfield properties reference and sentenced them to 10 years and seven years imprisonment, respectively.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019

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