Developments in Nawaz Sharif’s Trial

In March 2018, the apex court ordered the ECP to denotify Nawaz Sharif as president of the PML-N. In a swift compliance of the judgement, the ECP removed the name of Nawaz Sharif as the head of the ruling PML-N from the list of registered political parties. A breakthrough was seen when the forensic expert Robert M. Radley informed the JIT that the documents were forged on the basis that the document was written in Calibri font which was not commercially available in 2006- this statement consolidated the case against Maryam Nawaz.

Soon after, The Supreme Court bench issued its verdict on the contentious issue of setting a timeline for disqualification under 62. After months of review and hearings, it was ruled that those who are not “honest” and “truthful” as per law are banned from Parliament for life. Following the verdict, both Nawaz Sharif and Jehangir Tareen were termed ineligible to ever hold public office. Khawaja Asif witnessed a similar fate when the Islamabad High Court disqualified him under Article 62 of the Constitution for the non-disclosure of his employment as an occupation and the monthly salary he was receiving. These verdicts caused major blows to the PML-N.

The Sharif’s continued to raise concerns against the JIT- they constantly claimed that the report was biased.

Many speculated that the ruling party aimed to stretch the cases at least till after the General Elections. A couple months prior to the elections, The SC called on the AC to wrap up the legal cases against Nawaz Sharif and family within a month’s time, this statement caused Khawaja Harris to withdraw his power of attorney, stating he could not work under pressure and asked for a minimum of six weeks for completing the trial. Nawaz Sharif hired a new legal counsel- Jehangir Jadoon- after Khawaja’s withdrawal. This development was yet again seen an attempt by the Sharif family to escape judgment in the references filed against them.

Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were sentenced on July 6th – to ten years and seven years in prison respectively along with hefty fines. Whereas, Safdar was arrested in Rawalpindi on 8th July. The judgment- so far- has only been given in the Avenfield Case. The verdict was issued when both Nawaz and Maryam were in UK, they had initially asked the courts to stay the verdict till their return, and this was largely seen as a move to delay the verdict till the elections. The 6th July verdict offered a 10 day period to the convicts to return to Pakistan and file their pleas.

The PML-N was unable amass large street power on the arrival of NS and Maryam. Khawaja Haris filed the appeals on behalf of Nawaz; one urging the IHC to set aside the accountability court’s verdict in the Avenfield reference, another to suspend the said verdict until the IHC adjudicated on the main appeals, and a third requesting the court to transfer the Azizia and Flagship corruption references against Nawaz from the court of accountability.

The Sharif’s have petitioned to suspend the verdict in relation to Avenfield Case. The NAB requested the court to declare the pleas non-maintainable and turn them down. However, the court directed its registrar to set the petition’s hearing on Sept 9.

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