Shehbaz chairs high-level PML-N meeting to ‘welcome’ Nawaz

  • PML-N president directs party ticket holders, former members of assemblies to lead groups of party workers to welcome PML-N supremo

LAHORE: Former Punjab chief minister (CM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday chaired a high-level meeting to finalise a future course of action for the party in light of ousted prime minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s decision to return to the country after he was sentenced by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference.

The meeting, which was held at the party’s HQ in Model Town, was attended by senior party leaders, including former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, former railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal and Shehbaz’s son, Hamza Shehbaz.

During the meeting, Shehbaz has directed the PML-N’s ticket holders and former members of assemblies to lead groups of party workers to welcome Nawaz when he returns to the country.

The former Punjab CM will also formulate an alternative plan in case security personnel attempt to stop workers from welcoming Nawaz.

On Friday, over failure to satisfy the court regarding the Avenfield apartments, Nawaz Sharif was handed a 10-year sentence with 8 million pounds in fine, while Maryam Nawaz was sent to jail for seven years besides 2m pounds in fines. Nawaz’s son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar Awan, who was in Pakistan, though not at court at the time of the verdict, was sentenced to one-year in jail.

In a reference to the verdict, Maryam had claimed that the court had acquitted her father of corruption.

The verdict had stated: “The prosecution have not brought evidence in respect of Section 9(a)(iv) of NAO 1999, which is related to corrupt practices; therefore the court exonerates them of corrupt practices.”

Commenting on the speculations that Sharifs were not convicted over corrupt practices, a NAB spokesperson had clarified that Nawaz Sharif and his family members had been convicted for committing corruption as “the offence of assets beyond known sources of income which prima facie come under the purview of National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 are corruption and corrupt practice”.

Moreover, the Sharif family has decided to challenge the court decision on July 9 in the Islamabad High Court. Khawaja Haris, the defence counsel, will file the appeals on their behalf.

Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif are likely to return to the country on Friday, July 13.