PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz talks to media persons after the court hearing.—Online
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz talks to media persons after the court hearing.—Online

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Na­­­­waz on the one hand lauded the army’s decision to remain apolitical, while on the other she remarked that a thorough, above board and non-controversial professional should be appointed the army chief who can command resp­ect within the army and among the public.

The PML-N vice president said this while talking to the media after her appearance before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday in connection with a hearing on her appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield apartments reference.

Responding to a question, Ms Nawaz said every political party had strived for and demanded the army’s role in politics remain neutral, however, it was former prime minister Imran Khan who dragged the institution into political affairs to allegedly prolong his tenure, but started attacking it when he was ousted.

In response to a question about Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s statement that Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Faiz Hamid along with other eligible officers would be considered for the next army chief, Ms Nawaz replied the chief of army staff should be a thorough professional soldier with a non-controversial, unblemished and flawless reputation. Only then can he be respected within the force and among the people of Pakistan, she added.

PML-N leader’s counsel asks court to give Nawaz Sharif some ‘wiggle room’ so he can return

The firebrand PML-N leader said ministers in the previous cabinet used to refer to international markets when asked about inflation in the country, but were now blaming the incumbent government that assumed power about a month ago.

“Imran should answer the public about why prices of wheat were raised from Rs30 to Rs80; why sugar touched Rs120 per kilogram, which was Rs50/kg previously; why did the dollar touch an all-time high of Rs190 when it was Rs105 under the N-League regime? When we were in power, the stock market was at 55,000 points and development was at 6pc growth rate.”

Thrashing Mr Khan’s allegations of a foreign conspiracy behind his ouster from power, Ms Nawaz said it was just an excuse to hide his poor performance. She also accused the former premier and his associates of minting money through corruption.

Court proceedings

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani resumed hearing of the appeal of Maryam Nawaz seeking her conviction to be set aside in the Avenfield apartments reference.

Interestingly, Azhar Siddique and Imtiaz Siddiqui, the special prosecutors of the NAB engaged a couple of months before the ouster of the previous regime, were absent during the hearing. Upon the court’s query, Usman Cheema said the bureau had re-engaged him for the case. Mr Cheema had been briefly engaged by the NAB as a special prosecutor, but was replaced by Mr Siddique and Mr Siddiqui.

Irfan Qadir, the counsel for Ms Nawaz, pointed out that after the IHC framed a question related to the evidence against his client, the bureau sought repeated adjournments over one pretext or another, and also kept changing its prosecutors to linger on the matter.

Advocate Amjad Pervaiz, another counsel for Ms Nawaz, apprised the court that it may examine the relevant evidence instead of the voluminous record to save time.

The court asked if the evidence against the main accused, Nawaz Sharif, would be examined.

Mr Pervaiz replied that since the role of Ms Nawaz was that of an abettor, the court would confine itself to examining the relevant record. He, however, citing judgements of the superior judiciary, said the court could acquit Nawaz Sharif if it found no evidence against him. He suggested the court give some comfort zone to Mr Sharif so he could return to face the court.

Justice Farooq, on the other hand, said the course is available in the law.

The court adjourned further proceedings till June 2.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022

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