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Tuesday July 16, 2024

NAB directed to record Nawaz’s statement in Toshakhana reference by 30th

Gifts given to heads of govts, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other govts, states and foreign dignitaries were deposited in Toshakhana

By Awais Yousafzai & Khalid Iqbal
November 21, 2023
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif arrives to appear before the High Court in Islamabad on October 26, 2023. — AFP
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif arrives to appear before the High Court in Islamabad on October 26, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD. An accountability court in Islamabad on Monday accepted an application for recording Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s statement in the Toshakhana reference.

The court ordered the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to record the statement till Nov 30. The reference against Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Yusuf Raza Gilani claimed they had purchased luxury vehicles and gifts from the state repository.

Gifts given to heads of governments, parliamentarians, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments, states and foreign dignitaries were deposited in the Toshakhana.

At the hearing on Monday, Nawaz’s lawyer Qazi Misbah told Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir that the PMLN chief’s statement was not recorded during investigation. He requested the court to direct the NAB to record his statement.

The NAB prosecutor responded that he would need to go through the plea first.

The judge questioned what the problem was, asking NAB to “call Nawaz Sharif and record his statement”. The prosecutor informed the court that only the investigating officer (IO) could record the statement.

Nawaz’s lawyer asked for giving a questionnaire, which would be replied. The prosecutor informed the court NAB did not have any objection to the investigating officer recording Nawaz’s statement.

The hearing was adjourned till Nov 30. In June 2020, a non-bailable arrest warrant was issued by an accountability court for Nawaz Sharif in this reference.

Nawaz was declared a proclaimed offender, his properties were also ordered to be confiscated by the court. However, his arrest warrant was cancelled two days prior to his return to Pakistan from London, where he was residing in self-exile.

Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) would take up Nawaz Sharif’s appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield Apartment and Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption references on Tuesday (today).

A two-member division bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, would conduct the hearing. According to the cause list issued by the court’s registrar office, the appeals were set to be heard on Nov 21.

Earlier, the appeals were dismissed by the same court after former PM travelled abroad on account of seeking medical treatment. Sharif returned to the country after obtaining protective bail in the cases. He surrendered before the court, after which his appeals were restored.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) will hear the appeals filed by Pakistan Muslim League-N leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif against his conviction in the Avenfield apartments and Al-Azizia steel mills corruption references at 2:30pm on Tuesday (today).

A two-member division bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, will conduct the hearing for the first time since the restoration of the appeals, following the ex-PM’s surrender before the court after his return to the country recently.

The IHC registrar office has issued a circular regarding rules and regulations for the hearing of the appeals, according to which access to the courtroom will be given to relevant lawyers and journalists only upon showing their entry passes.

The Islamabad IGP has been directed to ensure proper security arrangements to maintain the decorum of the court during the hearing. The appellant side has been asked to submit a list of 15 lawyers, and the offices of attorney general and advocate general Islamabad have been told to submit lists of five law officers each for the issuance of entry passes.

The IHC journalists’ association has been asked to submit a list of 30 journalists for passes to attend the hearing. The high court employees will be exempted from the passes.