Lahore, Nov 4 (PTI) With Pakistan's election commission announcing that general elections would be held on February 8, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party leaders on Saturday demanded the judiciary to take up cases against their supremo at the earliest so that he can contest.
After Sharif arrived here last month ending his self-imposed exile of four years in London, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) restored his appeals against his conviction in the Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia corruption references but did not fix any date for hearing. Nawaz has been on protective bail.
Besides, Nawaz, 73, is also facing disqualification till 2028 to contest polls in which he also needs a clean chit from the court.
“As the elections are announced, the appeals of Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia and Evenfield cases should be fixed for hearing at the earliest so that he comes out clean to contest the polls,” Mian Javed Latif, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), said here.
Latif is considered close to Sharif.
The PML-N supremo was serving a seven-year imprisonment term at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail in 2019 when he was allowed to leave for London on medical grounds by the Lahore High Court for four weeks. He jumped bail to go to London.
Meanwhile, since his arrival, Nawaz has been virtually given 'PM-designate' protocol as his party is tipped to return to power after the upcoming polls, political observers said.
Given the obvious “perfect equation” that Sharif has with the military establishment, incarcerated Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has alleged that the PMLN under the ‘London Plan’ will come to power with the blessing of the military establishment. On the other hand, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senior leader and former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari said that he would not let Nawaz Sharif to become prime minister.
“I had made Shehbaz Sharif (the) prime minister in the previous PDM government but he failed to deliver. Now I will not let his elder brother (Nawaz) become the PM,” Zardari said.
The elder Sharif, who was found guilty in both Avenfield Apartments and Al-Azizia corruption cases by an accountability court in July 2018, had previously been declared a proclaimed offender after leaving for the UK for medical treatment after securing bail. His appeals were subsequently dismissed.
Sharif stepped down as the country's prime minister in 2017 after he was disqualified for life from holding public office by the Supreme Court for not declaring a receivable salary.
In 2018, he became ineligible to hold public office for life after a Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers case.
In 2020, an accountability court declared him a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicles case. He is also accused of obtaining luxury cars from the treasury house by paying just 15 per cent of the price of these vehicles. He was also convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018.
A day before Sharif returned to Pakistan, the Islamabad High Court on October 19 provided temporary relief to him as it granted the former prime minister a protective bail in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia corruption cases until October 24. An anti-corruption court also suspended his arrest warrant in the Toshakhana vehicles case. PTI MZ NPK AKJ NPK NPK