ISLAMABAD: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Tuesday called on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to prove claims that his party members were receiving threatening phone calls from unidentified people, as well as asking him disclose the names of those intimidating them instead of calling them “Mr X and Y”.

The former prime minister recently claimed two individuals, understood to be from the security agencies, were leading an effort to overthrow the coalition government in Punjab. He has also claimed they were calling PTI and PML-Q lawmakers and either tempting them with bribes or coercing them to change allegiances. Mr Khan repeated his allegations about the two people in Monday’s rally in Chakwal and called upon the people to threaten them in return.

Talking to the media after appearing before the Islamabad High Court (IHC), where she has challenged her conviction in the Avenfield Apartments reference, Ms Nawaz said she and her party members also received threats, but did not conceal the identities of those people and disclosed their names at every forum. She also addressed media reports of Imran’s frustration with his party members for allegedly establishing contacts with the establishment behind his back, and questioned whether the PTI chief had informed the party of his own “secret meetings”.

Responding to the IHC quashing terrorism charges against Khan in a case of his controversial remarks against a female judge, the PML-N leader said regardless of the sections applied to him, “he is convicted every time because he has done this in front of the world and it doesn’t need to be proved”.

High court asks NAB to prove Nawaz Sharif’s ownership of London properties, substantiate link with Maryam

Ms Nawaz said she always believed in democracy and democratic norms, but did not consider the PTI a political party. It was now the responsibility of all political parties to come forward and expose a “hypocrite and imposter” (Imran Khan) before the nation. She also called the Punjab government “unconstitutional”, adding Chief Minister Parvez Elahi had to go home sooner or later for the betterment of the province.

The PML-N leader lambasted Mr Khan for allegedly “maligning” state institutions, adding the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had failed to produce any evidence in the cases registered against the PML-N leadership, including herself.

Nawaz’s ownership of Avenfield properties

Earlier, the IHC asked the NAB to prove former prime minister Nawaz Sharif owned the London properties he was linked with, and substantiate their connection with his daughter Maryam.

The NAB special prosecutor recalled excerpts from the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Panama Papers case and reports of the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to probe into the assets of the Sharif family.

Earlier last week, the counsel of Ms Nawaz concluded his arguments on the appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield Apartments reference.

At the outset, NAB Special Prosecutor Usman Cheema gave a detailed background of ‘Panamagate’ and recalled that the Supreme Court had constituted a six-member JIT that concluded Nawaz was the owner of the said properties and Maryam abetted him in acquiring and owning the apartments.

However, he later conceded Maryam had no role in acquiring the properties when the court pointed out that as per a NAB claim, the property was acquired in 1993 and Ms Nawaz’s ‘controversial’ trust deed was executed in 2006. The prosecutor argued that the trust deed had been prepared to mislead the investigation team.

The IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani inquired if the NAB investigation officer had been misled through the trust deed. The prosecutor replied the deed was presented before the Supreme Court, and the JIT had concluded it had been added to court record to mislead the investigation.

NAB Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi intervened and told the court that at the request of the defence counsel, the accountability court had amended the charge sheet and the matter of the allegedly forged trust deed had been put off till adjudication of the appeal against the conviction.

Justice Farooq asked Cheema to establish Nawaz Sharif’s connection with the properties, since his arguments about the background of the case did not mention how the PML-N supreme leader acquired the land.

Cheema again insisted the bench rely upon the JIT report to understand the ownership, to which the bench observed it was the responsibility of the bureau to prove Sharif’s ownership of the properties. Once the NAB substantiated that it would then be in a position to establish Ms Nawaz’s guilt, the bench further observed.

Amjad Pervaiz, the counsel for Ms Nawaz, argued the NAB could have obtained these documents during the course of investigation by interrogating the property agent, but it deliberately did not record the agent’s statement.

The NAB prosecutor requested the court for some time to respond. Further hearing was adjourned till Sept 29.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022

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