Nawaz declared proclaimed offender

Published September 10, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari along with his daughter Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari leaving the accountability court after the hearing in the NAB reference on Wednesday. [Right] Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and PPP leader Nayyar Hussain Bukhari stand outside the court. —
ISLAMABAD: Former president Asif Ali Zardari along with his daughter Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari leaving the accountability court after the hearing in the NAB reference on Wednesday. [Right] Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and PPP leader Nayyar Hussain Bukhari stand outside the court. —

• Court orders his arrest through Interpol, seizure of his property
• Ex-PM’s lawyer files fresh medical report before IHC
• Zardari, Gillani charge-sheeted in Toshakhana reference

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Wednesday declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles reference, initiated the process to confiscate his properties and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to make his arrest through Interpol.

Meanwhile, the counsel for the ex-premier, who has been in London on medical grounds for the past one year, submitted his fresh medical report before the Islamabad High Court along with an application seeking extension in his bail.

The IHC division bench will take up the application on Thursday (today).

While separating Mr Sharif’s case, Judge Mohammad Azam Khan of the accountability court of Islamabad indicted former president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and other accused persons in the Toshakhana reference.

When the court resumed proceedings in the NAB reference, the investigation officer recorded the statement regarding execution of proclamation issued for Mr Sharif.

“Statement of the investigation officer clearly established that accused namely Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is intentionally avoiding, absconding and concealing himself from the process of law,” the court order stated, adding “hence, this case is hereby separated…and he is declared as a proclaimed offender”.

The court also directed the investigation officer to “submit report regarding the list of moveable and immoveable properties” of the ex-PM within 10 days, while dismissing his application seeking exemption from personal appearance.

The case was fixed for framing of charges against Mr Zardari, Mr Gillani, Abdul Ghani Majid, who were present in the courtroom, while suspect Khawaja Anver Majid attended the proceeding through Skype from NICVD in Karachi.

The charge-sheet accused the then PM Gillani of issuing directions to the cabinet division secretary to forward a summary for relaxation of prescribed procedure in favour of accused Mr Sharif and Mr Zardari for disposing of the luxury vehicles.

It accused Mr Zardari of “abuse of position as a holder of public office, in conspiracy with the co-accused Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani…[and] dishonestly sought and obtained relaxation” of procedure of the acceptance and disposal of gifts.

The court charge-sheeted Ghani Majid for receiving funds, amounting to Rs57 million without any lawful consideration which was laundered by making payments of cost and duties of the gifted vehicles. As per charge-sheet, Anver Majid also contributed in the crime through some bank transactions.

When Judge Khan read out the charges against the accused persons, they pleaded not guilty. The judge then adjourned further proceedings till September 24 and summoned prosecution witnesses Mohammad Zubair Siddiqui, Waqarul Hassan Shah and Imran Zafar for the said date.

Fresh medical report

The counsel for Mr Sharif namely Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Barrister Munawar Iqbal Duggal submitted his fresh medical report along with an application to explain reason for the delay in his return from the United Kingdom.

The IHC had earlier directed Mr Sharif to surrender or face consequences while hearing the appeals against his conviction in Avenfield properties and Al-Azizia Steel references.

According to the fresh medical report, Mr Sharif has been advised not to travel and continue routine walk. The application stated that Mr Sharif was “still suffering from multiple co-morbidities, his treatment in London has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, resultantly he has not been able to regain his health, and all the doctors who have been treating him in the past, as well as those who have been treating him since his arrival in London in November 2019 have strongly advised him not to travel to Pakistan without getting his treatment done in London, otherwise his life would be at serious risk.

“The disability of the appellant [Mr Sharif] to return to Pakistan is evident from all the medical reports pertaining to his health that have been placed on the record while there is no material to the contrary by any doctor who may have examined him since he left for London.”

The application claimed that Mr Sharif was “willing to return to Pakistan and face the due process of law and justice, and that is only because of the advice of his doctors in London that he is forced to delay his return to Pakistan”.

The application requested the court to relax the requirement of Mr Sharif’s surrender at this stage and proceed with the matter by appointing a pleader for the former prime minister.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2020

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