Islamabad: In a temporary relief to Nawaz Sharif ahead of his return to Pakistan on Saturday, the Islamabad High Court on Thursday granted the former prime minister a protective bail in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia corruption cases until October 24.
Also, an anti-corruption court in Pakistan suspended his arrest warrant in the Toshakhana vehicles case.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo through a counsel Qazi Mushahid approached the Islamabad-base accountability court No. 1 on Wednesday for suspension of the permanent arrest warrant issued two years ago for failing to appear in a case about getting a vehicle from Toshakhana on concessional price.
The 73-year-old politician was convicted in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases and was declared a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana vehicle case, which is pending before an accountability court in Islamabad. Nawaz was on bail in these cases when he left for the UK in 2019 for medical treatment.
The respite comes just days ahead of Nawaz Sharif’s arrival in Pakistan on October 21, ending about four years of self-exile in London.
According to the petition, Nawaz was seeking protective bail in order to surrender before the court and “submit to due process of justice and avail remedies permissible under the law”.
The plea sought the Islamabad High Court’s direction to stop authorities from arresting Nawaz from the airport on his return to the country on October 21 to allow him to surrender before the court.
Judge Muhammad Bashir heard the plea and ordered to suspend the warrants when informed that Nawaz wanted to appear before the court.
The judge fixed the hearing for October 24 and suspended warrants until then. However, the judge warned to restore the arrest orders if Nawaz failed to appear.
The decision by the court removed one hurdle before the three-time former prime minister’s safe return. He is also expected to get relief from the Islamabad High Court where he petitioned on Wednesday for protective bail in two corruption cases.
Last month, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif confirmed that his elder brother Nawaz Sharif was returning to Pakistan on October 21 to lead the party’s campaign for the general election. Subsequently, the party announced that Nawaz was ready to face “all kinds of circumstances” upon his return from London.
Nawaz stepped down as Pakistan’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. He has been living in London since 2019 after the Lahore High Court granted him four-week permission to go abroad for his treatment.
He was serving a seven-year imprisonment at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case before he was allowed to proceed to London in 2019 on “medical grounds”.
In 2020, an accountability court declared Nawaz 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.
Nawaz was convicted in the Al-Azizia Mills and Avenfield corruption cases in 2018.