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Nawaz requests IHC to be excused from hearing set for tomorrow

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. — The News/Files 

LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday requested Islamabad High Court (IHC) to excuse him from attending the Avenfield and Al-Azizia Steel Mills references hearing set for tomorrow.

Nawaz argued that he was undergoing treatment abroad due to illness and cannot attend the hearing for the same reason; therefore, he be granted an exemption.

The former premier further argued that his treatment in London had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and that his doctors had not yet permitted him to travel back to Pakistan.

Once the doctors give permission to return after recovery, “I will come to Pakistan on the first flight,” he reportedly said in his petition to the IHC.

The PML-N leader said he had provided medical reports and various other documents in his bail extension request to the government of Punjab but it rejected the request “for malicious purposes”.

A fresh medical report has been sent and would be brought on record, he added.

Nawaz explained that his legal counsel advised him that challenging the decision without appearing in the court would be useless; therefore, he was unable to challenge the Punjab government’s decision on his bail extension request as he was unable to return to Pakistan.

It is noteworthy that a two-member bench of the IHC — comprising Justices Aamer Farooq and Mohsin Akhtar Kayani — is scheduled to preside over the hearing on the appeals challenging the rulings in the Avenfield, Al-Azizia Steel Mills, and Flagship references tomorrow (Tuesday).

Nawaz, as well his daughter, Maryam, and her husband, Captain Safdar, are out on bail and have filed appeals against the rulings in the Avenfield reference. The PML-N supremo has also filed an appeal against the ruling in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), too, has filed an appeal for Nawaz’s sentence to be extended further.

The accountability court had acquitted the former PM in the Flagship reference but the anti-graft watchdog has filed a petition challenging the ruling.

The accountability court had awarded Nawaz, Maryam, and Safdar 10-, seven-, and one-year jail sentences in the Avenfield reference. However, the IHC had suspended the trio’s sentences, whereas the Supreme Court of Pakistan, too, had maintained the IHC’s decision.

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