• IHC ratifies caretaker Punjab govt decision to suspend Al-Azizia sentence
• PML-N to launch a new manifesto; aims to placate PPP and other political parties

LAHORE: As the Islamabad High Court resurrected the appeals of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif with “all legal consequences” and ratified a decision of the Punjab caretaker government to suspend his sentence in the Al-Azizia case, the PML-N supreme leader chaired the formal party meeting at Jati Umra in Lahore for the first time in four years to chart his party’s course to power.

The huddle attended by the core party leadership discussed PML-N’s ties with other parties, particularly the PPP whom it aimed to placate ahead of polls likely in January.

The meeting also discussed the ‘re-launching’ of the elder Sharif, who would visit all provinces in November to breathe a new life into the party.

The PML-N is also planning to launch a new manifesto in line with the changing times. It has also decided to seek applications from potential candidates for upcoming elections by Nov 10.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal said, “We think at the end of January 2024, the elections will be held. The party will start receiving applications from interested candidates across the country from Wednesday (today) till Nov 10 and the central and provincial election boards be set up for award of tickets for upcoming polls.”

A manifesto committee under Senator Irfan Siddiqui has also been set up, he said, adding that the committee would focus on the judicial system and economy. When asked whether politicians’ decisions were taken by someone else, he said the PML-N was not looking up to someone (establishment) as it was making its decisions on its own.

On the other hand, a division bench of the IHC issued a detailed judgement on the pleas of Mr Sharif seeking restoration of his appeals against the conviction in the Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia Steel Mills cases.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb disposed of the plea and also ratified the Punjab government’s decision to suspend his sentence in the Al-Azizia reference in which the IHC had given eight weeks bail to Mr Sharif, asking him to approach the Punjab government if he would require an extension in the bail.

It may be noted that the IHC dismissed the appeals in both cases on June 23, 2021, and the orders for interim relief of bail were also recalled.

The IHC judgement issued on Tuesday also explained the steps the provincial government took to suspend the sentence.

It said that apparently an application was filed on Oct 21 by the petitioner’s lawyers before the government of Punjab seeking the suspension of the said sentence under Section 401(2) of CrPC on medical grounds.

“The caretaker chief minister of Punjab, on Oct 22 constituted a committee…with the mandate to deliberate upon the matter and submit recommendations for consideration by the caretaker provincial cabinet,” it said.

The said committee recommended that the caretaker cabinet may suspend the execution of the sentence awarded to the petitioner in reference by accepting the application under Section 401(2) CrPC.

The caretaker chief minister approved the said recommendations and direc-ted that the same be placed before the caretaker provincial cabinet through circulation.

The recommendations were placed before the cabinet through a summary dated Oct 23, which was subsequently approved.

The court referred to the statement of the NAB prosecutor general and said the NAB lawyer “stated in unequivocal terms that NAB does not want to arrest the applicant, and that this court ought to grant the prayer made by him for the restoration/resurrection of the appeals”.

The court subsequently ruled, “Since the learned Prosecutor General, NAB did not oppose the applications for the restoration/resurrection of the appeals, the restored with all legal consequences.”

According to former law minister Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the interim relief granted to Mr Sharif in the Avenfield reference was also restored with the revival of the appeals.

He said that since the court did not find any anomaly in the process the Punjab government adopted to suspend the sentence, therefore, it was tantamount to the bail approval.

Malik Asad in Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2023

Opinion

Rule by law

Rule by law

‘The rule of law’ is being weaponised, taking on whatever meaning that fits the political objectives of those invoking it.

Editorial

Isfahan strikes
Updated 20 Apr, 2024

Isfahan strikes

True de-escalation means Israel must start behaving like a normal state, not a rogue nation that threatens the entire region.
President’s speech
20 Apr, 2024

President’s speech

PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari seems to have managed to hit all the right notes in his address to the joint sitting of...
Karachi terror
20 Apr, 2024

Karachi terror

IS urban terrorism returning to Karachi? Yesterday’s deplorable suicide bombing attack on a van carrying five...
X post facto
Updated 19 Apr, 2024

X post facto

Our decision-makers should realise the harm they are causing.
Insufficient inquiry
19 Apr, 2024

Insufficient inquiry

UNLESS the state is honest about the mistakes its functionaries have made, we will be doomed to repeat our follies....
Melting glaciers
19 Apr, 2024

Melting glaciers

AFTER several rain-related deaths in KP in recent days, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sprung into...