Islamabad | For the first time since his return from London after four years of self-exile, former premier Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday appeared before the Islamabad accountability court, which confirmed his bail in the Toshakhana corruption case.
Sharif, 73, the three-time prime minister and supremo of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), returned to Pakistan on Saturday.
Ahead of Sharif's arrival on October 21, his legal team approached the Islamabad High Court, which granted him a protective bail until October 24 in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia corruption cases. Also, an anti-corruption court suspended his arrest warrant in the Toshakhana case.
The court cases, which stopped due to his absence, have resumed.
On Tuesday, Sharif marked his attendance in the Accountability Court of Judge Muhammad Bashir, who had suspended his arrest orders in the Toshakhana case last week to facilitate his return to Pakistan.
The attendance was significant to show that he had surrendered before the court. He was allowed to leave after the judge witnessed his presence in the courtroom.
During the hearing, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor contended that Sharif had surrendered, therefore, his arrest warrant should be cancelled. “If the warrants are cancelled then the trial can move forward,” he said.
The judge subsequently confirmed Sharif’s bail in the case against surety bonds of Rs 1 million. The hearing of the case was adjourned till November 20.
The case is based on allegations that Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari and ex-prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani received luxury vehicles and gifts from the Toshakhana.
In another relief to Sharif, the Punjab government on Tuesday suspended his sentence in the Al-Azizia case.
Punjab’s interim Information Minister Amir Mir and Sharif’s lawyer Amjad Parvez confirmed the development, Dawn newspaper reported.
Mir said that the caretaker government had done this by “using its constitutional powers” under Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which deals with suspensions, remissions and commutations of sentences.
Sharif was convicted in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and sentenced to seven years in jail in December 2018. He was allowed to go to London in November 2019 on medical grounds and he returned about four years later on Saturday.
He was also convicted in July 2018 by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties case and sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was arrested and put in jail but set free after being given bail while his appeals against acquittal in the case were pending.
His daughter Maryam Nawaz was also sentenced to seven years in jail in the case but was acquitted in September 2022 along with her husband Muhammad Safdar.
The IHC declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases in December 2020.
Earlier today, Sharif’s counsel Qazi Misbah in the Toshakhana case filed three different applications in the accountability court, which include the restoration of the PML-N supremo's annexed property in the case; appointment of Sharif's pleader in the case; and an application to submit the politician's bail bonds.
Sharif was disqualified in 2017 and later in 2018 convicted in the two cases of corruption. He has always denied allegations of any wrongdoing and termed his conviction orchestrated by the powerful establishment in collusion with the judiciary.