–Accountability court all set to announce joint verdict in graft references against Nawaz at 9am today
–PML-N all set for a power show in case supreme leader is sent to jail
ISLAMABAD: The accountability court seized with graft references of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is all set to decide the fate of three-time PM in Al-Azizia and Flagship Investment cases.
On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif has also arrived in Islamabad ahead of the verdict that is expected to be delivered in the morning around 9 am.
Upon his arrival from Lahore, he met party president and younger sibling Shehbaz Sharif at his Ministers’ Enclave residence to discuss the party matters and post-verdict scenario.
According to analysts, chances of Nawaz going to jail once again are highly likely. And PML-N is ready for it.
Both leaders have formulated the strategy for a power show and also directed the PML-N lawmakers and workers to reach Islamabad to join the power show.
The meeting decided that a 30-member advisory board that would include senior lawmakers such as Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ayaz Sadiq would run the party affairs in Sharifs’ absence.
Moreover, the potential imprisonment has also brought PML-N closer to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Both parties are planning to launch a mass agitation movement against the government in case of conviction.
However, media reports suggest PML-N won’t trouble the Imran Khan-led government if Nawaz goes free. In that case, the party supreme leader would address the party’s Foundation Day ceremony in Lahore on Dec 30. It will also mark Maryam’s return to politics, sources claimed.
After Avenfield verdict that had sent the Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar to jail and its subsequent suspension, the father-daughter duo, with the exception of Nawaz’s post-hearing media talks, have been keeping mum.
In a statement on her father’s departure to Islamabad, Maryam, however, vowed to continue her crusade for justice.
The government is also prepared to let situation not go out of hand in case Nawaz is sent to jail. Security around the Judicial Complex has been tightened ahead of the verdict, with Rangers standing guard outside the complex.
PML-N workers will take to streets if Nawaz is found guilty and might create hurdle for the government during his transfer to Adiala Jail. In that case, according to sources, the ousted PM would be taken to jail by a helicopter if situation on the roads became unfeasible.
Besides, the interior ministry has evolved a special security plan to maintain law and order situation in the federal capital. It will deploy additional 1,400 policemen and block exit and entry points of the city.
It has also vowed to thwart any protest demonstration by PML-N workers at all costs, saying the law will take its course in full force against those found involved in creating any law and order situation.
Along with deployment of eight prisoner vehicles, plainclothes policemen will also be deployed to arrest those found involved in ransacking public and private properties.
After Nawaz was named in Panama Papers in 2016, the SC had formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the former PM. On the basis of the JIT report, Nawaz was disqualified from being a member of parliament in July 2017.
The top court had also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file references against the Sharif family and decided the case within six months.
One of the three references, Avenfield, implicated Nawaz, daughter Maryam and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar, while the other two references, Flagship and Al-Azizia, concerned Nawaz and his sons Hasan and Husain Nawaz.
The two brothers residing in London have been absconding since the proceedings began last year and were declared proclaimed offenders by the court.
On July 6, after four extensions in the original six-month deadline to conclude all three cases, the court had announced its verdict in the Avenfield reference.
Nawaz, Maryam and Safdar were sentenced to 10, seven and one year of imprisonment, respectively, in absentia by Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir. They, however, were released on bail by the Islamabad High Court after a few months.
Following the conviction, Nawaz, through his counsel filed a petition in the IHC that sought transfer of cases to another court, pleading “since the evidence and the arguments in all three references were similar, the outcome may be the same if the same judge heard the case”.
Subsequently, Judge Bashir recused and the cases were transferred to the court of AC Judge Muhammad Arshad. Unlike Avenfield reference, the court had also announced to give a joint verdict in remaining two corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.
Overall 183 hearings took place in NAB reference against Nawaz Sharif in AC No 1 and No 2. Former PM appeared in the AC for 130 times: 70 times before Judge Muhammad Bashir and 60 times before Judge Arshad Malik.