Nawaz’s lawyer quits after plea rejection by IHC

Updated 23 Sep 2020

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Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar informed told the court that the warrants for arrest had been delivered to the Avenfield Apartments residence of the convict. — Photo courtesy Atika Rehman/File
Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar informed told the court that the warrants for arrest had been delivered to the Avenfield Apartments residence of the convict. — Photo courtesy Atika Rehman/File

ISLAMABAD: The lead counsel for Nawaz Sharif has given up representing his client after the Islamabad High Court rejected his application for deferring the issuance of the former prime minister’s proclamation, the court was informed on Tuesday.

Khawaja Haris Ahmed, the defence counsel for the ex-premier, all of a sudden ‘disassociated’ himself from the case, at least for the time being, assuming that he had lost the right of audience due to his absconsion.

A division bench of the high court comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had on Sept 15 dismissed the application. However, the court, while disposing of another application, had observed that the matter related to right of Mr Sharif’s audience would be examined at an appropriate stage.

As the court resumed hearing on Tuesday, Additional Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar informed it that the warrants for arrest had been delivered to the Avenfield Apartments residence of the convict.

Warrants delivered at convict’s residence in London through Royal Mail, says additional attorney general

An official of the Pakistan High Commission in the UK, Rao Abdul Hanan, had visited the residence to hand over the warrants, but an employee namely Yaqoob refused to receive them, the law officer said. Subsequently, the High Commission officials dispatched the warrants to the residence through Royal Mail, he said, adding that a person namely Hassan received the warrants and signed the receipt.

Mr Khokhar believed the recipient was none other than Hassan Nawaz, the son of the ex-premier. He said the Pakistan High Commission also forwarded the copy of the warrants to Lesley Craig, head of Pakistan-Afghanistan department in the UK foreign office. He said the desk would forward this to the county court in Central London to serve them on the convict.

NAB additional prosecutor general Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana argued that the requirement for issuance of proclamation against the convict had been fulfilled.

While noticing that defence counsel Khawaja Haris was not present in the courtroom, Justice Farooq inquired from his associate, Barrister Munawar Duggal, about reason of his absence.

Barrister Duggal said that after dismissal of the application seeking deferment of proclamation and issuance of non-bailable warrants, Khawaja Haris realised that in such a situation the accused had lost the right of audience and, therefore, he had quit. “We have also expressed this constraint to the client,” he added.

He said he was just witnessing the hearing and was not representing the former prime minister.

Justice Farooq remarked that the court had never stopped Khawaja Haris from advancing arguments.

The court asked the director Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about further process of execution of warrants through the British ministry of foreign affairs. The official sought time from the court, saying he would ask the Pakistan High Commission in London about it and would respond accordingly on Wednesday.

The additional attorney general said he had already sent such a query to the foreign office. He argued that the process to execute warrants through the British ministry of foreign affairs was also necessary for extradition of the convict.

Justice Farooq remarked that the court was not interested in his extradition. “Neither we allowed him to go abroad nor we are passing an order to extradite him,” he made it clear, explaining that the federal government did not inform the IHC or sought permission before removing his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

Justice Kayani termed it a ‘serious lapse’ on part of the federal government.

The court, however, adjourned the hearing till Wednesday when it would take up appeals of the main opposition party leader Maryam Nawaz and her spouse Mohammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield Apartments reference.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2020