Pak court acquits Nawaz Sharif in Avenfield case

NAB withdraws appeal against his acquittal in Flagship case

Islamabad: In a major relief to Nawaz Sharif ahead of elections, a top Pakistani court on Wednesday acquitted the former prime minister in the Avenfield corruption case while his acquittal in another case was maintained after an appeal by the anti-graft body challenging it was withdrawn.

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A two-member Islamabad High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb announced the verdict after hearing the appeal filed by Sharif against his conviction in the Avenfield corruption case in which he was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2018.

In the same year, the 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo was acquitted by a trial court in the Flagship corruption case but the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the anti-corruption watchdog, had challenged his acquittal in the IHC.

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The Avenfield corruption case was about having properties in London with ill-gotten money and he was on bail in the case while his appeal against conviction was being heard by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

After hearing arguments, the IHC on Wednesday acquitted Sharif in the Avenfield case while the NAB decided to withdraw its appeal in the Flagship case due to which his acquittal by the trial court was restored by the high court.

“I thank God as I had left the entire matter to him. God has made us victorious today,” Sharif said while talking to reporters after the hearing.

When asked about Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan not contesting intra-party elections, the former premier just said: “This is the law of nature.”

Sharif, the only Pakistani politician who became the prime minister of the coup-prone country for a record three times, returned to the country about four years later last month to lead his party in general elections scheduled in February 2023.

Earlier this month, he directed his party leaders to begin their preparations for the national elections.

In a post on X, his daughter Maryam Nawaz said that today’s verdict showed how God vindicated those who put their unwavering trust in him.

Repeating his elder brother’s words, Shehbaz Sharif said Nawaz was innocent and the Almighty exonerated him of all charges.

“Finally, the truth has emerged victorious. THEY ATTACK, HE GROWS!!” the PML-N said in a post on X. “The truth cannot be hidden for long. Nawaz Sharif wins!!”

Sharif is, however, still convicted in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case in which was sentenced to seven years in jail in 2018. His appeal against the sentence is being heard at the IHC.

He was present during the hearing inside the IHC where strict security measures were put in place to avoid any untoward situation.

Sharif had challenged his sentences in the Avenfield property and Al-Azizia cases in the IHC. He had filed an appeal against both convictions.

Sharif was allowed to go to London in November 2019 on medical grounds. The IHC declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases in December 2020.

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