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July 19, 2018

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Sharifs allowed open trial

ISLAMABAD: The pending two cases against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and other family members under the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will be tried in open court.

The federal cabinet in its meeting here at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Wednesday reversed its decision of Friday last (July 13) for trial in Adiala prison. The decision could be altered by the trial court according to the situation once the hearing commences.

The cabinet discussed the overall situation, including the cases where Nawaz Sharif and his family members have been implicated. Federal Minister Syed Ali Zafar briefed the media about the decisions of the cabinet after its sitting, but it has been officially stated that the cabinet approved withdrawal of a summary dated July 13 and the order issued under sub-section-B of Section-16 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Sources told The News that the federal cabinet approved withdrawal of the earlier summary without much debate. Some of the members were of the view that the caretaker administration should not earn displeasure of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders on account of the decision that will have no impact on the case. It was agreed that the caretaker administration must maintain its neutrality in all circumstances.

“One of the members of the cabinet was of the view that withdrawal of the summary will mark as weakness of the administration,” the sources said. But Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk supported the idea of withdrawing the summary, the sources added.

The political and law and order situation was discussed threadbare by the cabinet which stressed on need to tighten the security to avoid any further untoward terror incident that could vitiate the ambiance for holding the polls. The cabinet reviewed the arrangements for holding free and fair elections throughout the country according to the schedule in a free and fair manner.

Secretary Interior Yousaf Nasim Khokhar briefed the meeting about the measures being taken and the efforts being made to complement the provincial governments in ensuring security and law and order during the general elections. These measures include deployment of over 42,000 civil armed forces, information sharing with the provincial governments through the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), provision of aviation support and technical assistance by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Nadra.

The cabinet emphasised the need for the provincial governments to ensure that the election code of conduct and security protocols are strictly followed and that the political leaders are kept on board by the administration about the security measures being taken to ensure security during corner meetings and political gatherings.

The cabinet approved various measures, proposed by the Finance Division, to facilitate implementation of the action plan to fulfill the country’s commitment towards anti-money laundering and countering terror-financing. The cabinet also endorsed a proposal for contributions by the employees of the federal government towards construction of the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams. According to the proposal, two days’ salaryof officers from BS-17-22, and one-day salary of officials from BS-1-16 will be donated for the cause. The cabinet members will contribute their one-month salary to the fund.

Appointment of Muhammad Saleem, District and Sessions Judge, as Judge Banking Court-II, Lahore, for a period of three years was approved. The meeting also approved a proposal to assign additional charge of the post of Chairman Port Qasim Authority to Asad Rafi Chandna (BS-21). The cabinet also approved issuance of notification regarding exemption of federal taxes in the areas of erstwhile Fata/Pata, initially for a period of three months. Amendment in Section 6(3) of the Elections Act, 2017 was approved by the cabinet. The meeting continued for about three hours and all agenda items were discussed by it.

Meanwhile, sources told Geo News that Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz are likely to be shifted to police rest house in Sihala. The sources said that all arrangements for the shifting of the father-daughter duo have been finalised. The Islamabad chief commissioner has already declared the rest house at the Sihala Police Training College in the capital as a sub-jail to keep the two figures.

Earlier in the day, Caretaker Punjab Minister for Information Ahmed Waqas Riaz detailed the facilities available to the former premier inside the prison.

Riaz, while addressing a press conference, said that Nawaz is being kept in a separate room inside the prison, adding that he has also been allotted space for walking, a functional washroom and a cook as well to make food for him.

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