Release of Sharif family temporary, NAB to challenge IHC decision in SC

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Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: Not withstanding, three-time former prime minister Nawaz sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-inlaw Captain (r) M. Sadfar were unexpectedly released following the order by Islamabad High Court, on Wednesday (19th September), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to move the Supreme Court against the decision.

According to sources, the release is temporarily and now the Shariffamily would be engaged in bitter litigation as NAB has hinted that it would not spare them and will continue the legal battle. The decision was made in a meeting held in the chair of NAB Chairman Justice (Retd) Javid Iqbal and necessary directions were given in this regard. The Chairman asked the NAB prosecution team to secure the attested copies ofthe IHCjudgement at the earliest. Earlier, the IHC had suspended sentences of ex-primeminister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (Retd) Safdar inAvenfield reference. Suspending their terms Justice Athar Minallah directed Nawaz Sharif, Capt (retd) Mohammad Safdar and Maryam Nawaz to furnish surety bond of Rs0.5 million each so that they could be released on bail. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday decided to challenge the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict of suspending sentences offormer prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter MaryamNawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar in the Avenfield reference. The decision has been taken in a meeting presided over by NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal. The anti-graft agency will challenge IHC’s judgement in the supreme Court after receiving attested copies of the verdict. Earlier in the day, the IHC suspended the conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (r) Safdar in the Avenfield properties case. A division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb suspended theirsentencesthrough a short verdict. The bench ordered release of the incarcerated members of the Shariffamily against a surety bond of Rs 500, 000 each. Fawad Choudhry Stating that the decision of the Islam¬abad High Court (IHC) to suspend the accountability court’s verdict in theAvenfield reference was on a “procedural basis”, Infor¬mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the government fully respected the country’s courts. In a statement issued by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s media department on Wednesday, Mr Chaudhry said that the country’s courts were functioning independently and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was also an independent and autonomous institution and the government had no role to play in its activities. MrChaudhry, who is also the information secretary ofthe ruling PTI, said the government respected the IHC’s order like all its previous judgements. He said the government as well as the people of Pakistan wanted action against all those involved in corruption. “The people of Pakistan want that their looted wealth brought back to the country and the government is working to achieve this objective,” he asserted. Stating that the nation was now aware about the character of the Sharif family, he alleged that the Sharifs were yet to provide evidence of its ownership of billions of rupees. He said the law would take its course and the case would further unfold. Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari termed the IHC verdict a “relief to the Sharif family”.In a statement issued fromBilawal House Karachi, the PPP chairman said that after the death of Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, the Sharif family was going through “testing times”. “The PPP and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto fought for the independence of judiciary and were an integral part ofthisimportant movement. The PPP has also suffered at the hands of judicial verdicts but not once have we disrespected the courts,” he added. The PPP chairman said he could not comment on the legal aspects of this verdict as courts were yet to decide on the appeals. “We believe that our courts should not seem to be seen as part of any political victimisation. Rule of law and independence of judiciary are essential for any democratic system to thrive,” he concluded. Similarly, PPP Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira in a separate statementsaid that assoon as the accountability court had announced 10-year jail term for the PML-N’s supreme leader, it was being expected that the (Islamabad) high court would bail out the ex-premier. Release from jail Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar, were released from Adiala jail on Wednesday after the Islamabad High Court suspended their respective prison sentencesin theAvenfield corruption reference earlier in the day. PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif along with senior party leaders reached Adiala jail in the evening to receive Nawaz afterthe IHC issued their release orders. A large number of PML-N supporters also gathered outside the prison to receive their supreme leader.Television footage showed a security vehicle driving the Sharifs through a massive crowd of supporters,some showering rose petals on the vehicle while others waved party flags and chanted slogans. The Sharifs were escorted to Nur KhanAirbase,Chaklala, amid tight security from where they were flown to Lahore in a private aircraft. The convoy moved at a slow pace as the route was crowded with supporters and workers of PML-N, who took to the streets to celebrate the release of their leader. The Sharifs reached Lahore later in the night where a large number of party supporters had gathered outside the Haj Terminal to welcome them. Subsequently, the Sharif family was escorted to their Jati Umra residence located in the outskirts of Lahore. Earlier in the day, an IHC division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb heard the petitions by the Sharifs and Capt Safdar against the verdict announced by the accountability court on July 6. The judges accepted the convicts’ petitions against the Avenfield verdict, ruling that the sentences would remain suspended until the final judgement on their appeals. “For the reasons to be recorded later on, the petitions of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Mohammad Safdar are allowed,” said Justice Minallah. A date will now be fixed for the hearing of the appeals. The court granted bail to Nawaz, Maryam and Capt Safdar and ordered them to pay Rs0.5 million as surety bonds. PML-N workers present in the courtroom started cheering as the IHC’s verdict was announced. Dozens of jubilant supporters chanted “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif!” outside the court. Leader ofthe Opposition and Nawaz’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, following the verdict took to Twitter to share a verse from Surah Al-Isra [17:81]: “Truth has come, and falsehood has departed. Indeed is falsehood, [by nature], ever bound to depart.”