RAWALPINDI, Oct 18: The Lahore High Court restrained an accountability court on Tuesday from proceeding with the references filed against PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and other members of their family.

The LHC’s Rawalpindi bench comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Abdul Waheed Khan issued the order while hearing a petition filed by the Sharif family that sought to quash the references.

The order said the judge of accountability court-IV “shall not proceed with the references till next date of hearing”.

On the request of the prosecutor of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the court added that “the order cannot affect application for revival of these references”.

The petition had cited the federation of Pakistan, through the secretary of ministry of law, justice and parliamentary affairs, the NAB. through its chairman, and the judge of the accountability court-IV as respondents.

The court sought paragraph-wise reply from the law secretary and the NAB within two weeks and adjourned the hearing till Nov 17.  The petitioners had requested the court to quash the references relating to the Hudaibia Paper Mills, Ittefaq Foundries and the Sharif family assets.

Akram Sheikh, counsel for the petitioners, told the court that the references were filed on the directives of former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and were illegal and mala fide.

He pointed out that at a time when the PML-N was playing the role of a “real opposition”, the government was trying to politically victimise the Sharif brothers by reviving the references. He requested the court to restrain the accountability court from taking any action on the references till the disposal of the petition.

NAB prosecutor Hanif Tahir told the court that the references could not be revived earlier because of the absence of a permanent chairman of the bureau. Now that the new chairman had assumed the charge, the authorities were reviving the old references, he added. He requested the court not to admit the petition for regular hearing before submission of reply by the respondents.

The petition said the reopening of proceedings under the impugned references by two separate governments (led by Gen Musharraf and the PPP) at crucial times established the malice and bad faith of the respondents. The continuation of the references would amount to abuse of process of law.

It said the very exercise of filing references by Gen Musharraf (in the background of procuring two convictions — in the plane hijacking case and the helicopter case) was visibly motivated by vendetta, malice and obnoxious designs to prevent the petitioners from participating in politics and to oust them from their homeland.

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