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Sunday June 16, 2024

Avenfield reference: NAB decides against challenging Maryam, Safdar's acquittal

NAB issues restraining order against filing appeals against IHC's decision to acquit Maryam, husband

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
December 14, 2022
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz (left) and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar. — Twitter/@MaryamNSharif
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz (left) and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar. — Twitter/@MaryamNSharif

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday decided not to challenge the acquittal of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt (retd) Safdar in the Avenfield reference.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on September 29 exonerated Maryam and Safdar in the graft case, nullifying the conviction handed to them in 2018 by an accountability court.

The development favouring the PML-N surfaced with the anti-graft watchdog's letter written to the prosecution branch to inform it about the decision.

NAB Rawalpindi has issued a restraining order against filing appeals against IHC's decision to acquit the PML-N leaders, which the accountability bureau's director general has approved.

PTI's Farrukh Habib urges CJP to take notice

Reacting to the development, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Farrukh Habib said that there was an "NRO-2" behind NAB's decision.

"History is repeating itself in the Avenfeild reference just as NAB didn't file any appeal in the Supreme Court against the nullification of the sentence [awarded] in the Hudaibia Paper Mills case," he said.

Habib said that the PML-N supremo took an "NRO-2" by getting passage for NAB Amendment Bill, 2022, after the "regime change operation".

He said that the government has spent billions of rupees paid by taxpayers on NAB cases.

"NAB has become an organisation to defend the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) corruption," Habib said while urging the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of the matter.

The conviction

An accountability court, just ahead of the 2018 General Elections, slapped Maryam with a fine of £2 million and sentenced her to seven years for being “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau — sentences which were due to run concurrently.

PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in jail for possessing assets disproportionate to the known sources of income, while Maryam's husband captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar was handed down two-year rigorous imprisonment.

In August 2019, Maryam was arrested in the case — while she was visiting her father in prison. Later, a local court granted bail in November 2019.

The PML-N vice president had filed a plea in the IHC seeking acquittal from the case.