Nawaz Sharif Triumphs: Cleared by IHC in Al-Azizia Case Ahead of Elections

Web DeskDecember 12, 20233226 min
Nawaz Sharif Triumphs: Cleared by IHC in Al-Azizia Case Ahead of Elections

In a pivotal legal turn, PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif secured a significant victory, being acquitted in the Al-Azizia reference by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday. The long-anticipated verdict, delivered by a two-judge bench led by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, comes as a pivotal moment for Nawaz ahead of the forthcoming February 8 general election.

This acquittal marks Nawaz’s resolution of one of the two corruption references against him. Earlier, on November 29, the same bench acquitted him in the Avenfield reference, further emboldening his legal stance.

Despite these legal successes, Nawaz remains barred from holding public office following the Supreme Court’s (SC) ruling in the Panama Papers case. A subsequent interpretation of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution enforced a lifelong disqualification based on integrity and trustworthiness. However, amendments to the Elections Act, 2017 earlier this year have limited lawmakers’ disqualification to five years retrospectively.

The SC’s intent to assemble a larger bench to address the eligibility of individuals disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) in light of the amendments underlines the complexity of Nawaz’s legal predicament.

The Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, resulting in Nawaz’s acquittal, stems from a previous conviction in 2018, leading to a seven-year jail sentence and substantial fines for inability to justify funds used in establishing Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metal Establishment (HME) in Saudi Arabia.

In December 2020, the IHC declared Nawaz a proclaimed offender due to his extended stay in London for medical reasons. After almost four years abroad, Nawaz returned to Pakistan in October this year. Subsequently, he filed applications to reinstate appeals against his convictions, which were initially dismissed due to lack of prosecution while he was overseas for medical treatment.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif celebrated his brother’s acquittal, framing it as Nawaz’s vindication. Shehbaz highlighted the detrimental impact of these cases on Pakistan’s progress, expressing hope for the nation’s resurgence under Nawaz’s leadership.

As Pakistan awaits the impending general election and amid ongoing legal deliberations, Nawaz’s legal victories have set the stage for intense political speculation and anticipation regarding his potential re-entry into the country’s political landscape.

 

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