Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that the accountability court in Islamabad should delay announcing the verdict in the Avenfield properties reference till the time he is able to return to the country.
Talking to reporters in London, the ex-prime minister said he wants to hear the judgement of the case while standing in the courtroom where he “endured more than 100 hearings” with his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
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Sharif said Pakistan has had a history of verdicts remaining "unnecessarily" reserved for months, hence delaying the judgement of the Avenfield case for a few days "considering an extremely sensitive matter" would not violate any requisite of justice or law.
"I want to hear this judgement while standing in the courtroom, amidst my people [and] holding them as witnesses," he said, adding that his lawyer will submit a formal application in the court requesting it to delay the announcement of the verdict.
Sharif said the mission he has taken up is not an easy one, but that he is ready to give any sacrifice for the sake of people's right to rule and to honour their vote.
"I am not a military dictator who would run away in fear," the ousted prime minister said, adding that he will not disappoint the nation by showing any cowardice.
"The people are going to announce the decision bigger than all decisions on July 25," he said in a reference to the general elections scheduled for later this month.
Sharif further said "those with the jeep [symbol]" — a reference to dissidents and other independents contesting on the jeep symbol against the PML-N — and others impeding the people's rule "will become an example" after the poll.
The former premier said he will "immediately" return to Pakistan as soon as his wife Kulsoom Nawaz's health condition improves and will face the consequences whether the verdict comes out in his favour or not. He said he wishes to see his wife conscious and talk to her before returning to the country.
Sharif questioned whether media in Pakistan could be termed free under current circumstances.
"Who has held the media captive? Why is the media not free in Pakistan?" he wondered, adding that he is ashamed by the kind of articles that are being written by global media about declining press freedom in the country.
"Who are these people who are censoring TV channels and newspapers?" he asked, claiming that attempts are also being made to block people's tweets.
Sharif said media should not be a party to "the conspiracy to throttle press" in the country.
Sharif's statement comes a day after the accountability court reserved its judgment in the Avenfield properties reference. The had court said that the decision in the reference would be announced on Friday, July 6.
The Avenfield reference was among those filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the former premier and his children on Supreme Court's orders given during the Panamagate case which disqualified Sharif.
The NAB prosecutor has stated before the accountability court that Nawaz Sharif had acquired four apartments in Avenfield House, Park Lane, London.
Sharif family insists that they had purchased the apartments through ‘legitimate’ financial resources. However, they have remained unable to disclose those resources before the accountability court or the Supreme Court.
Besides Sharif, Maryam and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar, NAB had also nominated Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz — Sharif's sons — as accused in all three references.