Sharif declared absconder in another case

Court issues non-bailable arrest warrants against ex-PM in illegal plot allotment case


Muhammad Haroon November 10, 2020
A file photo of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Saarc Summit. PHOTO: AP

LAHORE:

An accountability court in Lahore on Tuesday declared former prime minister Nawaz Sharif an absconder and issued non-bailable arrest warrants against him in an illegal plot allotment case involving Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rahman.

Judge Asad Ali, who was presiding over the hearing of the case, also ordered confiscation of the PML-N supremo’s properties.

The court directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the provincial revenue department to submit a report on the confiscation at the next hearing.

It also ordered starting the process of Shakil’s indictment.

In an apparent reference to a separate case against Sharif, judge observed that the proclamations for Sharif's summons had been published. He further noted that a report on the former premier’s absence had also been submitted to the court.

“Despite the passage of 30 days, the accused, Nawaz Sharif, has not appeared before the court,” the judge remarked.

During the proceedings, NAB Special Prosecutor Haris Qureshi prayed before the court to declare the former premier a fugitive as 30 days had passed since the issuance of his proclamations.

Muhammad Nawaz Chaudhry Advocate appeared on behalf of accused Mir Shakil, whereas accused Humayun Faiz Rasool and Mian Bashir Ahmed were represented by advocates Haider Rasool Mirza and Rana Mushtaq respectively.

According to NAB, Shakil had illegally acquired 54 plots, each measuring one kanal, at Canal Bank in H-Block of Lahore’s Johar Town in 1986 in connivance with then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif. It added that acquiring the plots on exemption in a single block was in violation of the Exemption Policy 1986.

 NAB prosecutor maintained that Shakil also included two streets in the allotted plots in with connivance Sharif.

He further argued that Shakil had the plots transferred in the names of his wife and children, minors at the time, to cover up his crime.

Proclamations for summoning Sharif before the Islamabad High Court in the Avenfield and Al-Aziza Steel Mills references were published last month.

The PML-N supremo was declared a proclaimed offender in September and refused multiple times to receive the arrest warrants issued against him. The arrest warrants were sent twice by-hand and once via Britain's Royal Mail.

The text of the proclamation stated that Sharif was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and fine which was suspended on September 19, 2018, and he was released on bail.

It further read that Sharif was required to appear before the court during the hearing and arrest warrants were issued to ensure Nawaz's attendance which could not be complied with.

The proclamation added that Nawaz should appear before the court on November 24.

In reference to the second reference, the proclamation read that Sharif was granted an eight-week bail in the Al-Aziza reference but the former premier did not appear before the court to follow the hearings on appeals after suspension of sentence and bail.

The IHC said that court was satisfied with the filed reports according to which Sharif was a fugitive and deliberately avoiding proceedings.

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