On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reinstated the appeals of Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), against the convictions in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases by accountability courts.
Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister who had been removed from office three times, personally appeared before a division bench of the IHC, presided over by Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb. The bench considered his plea challenging the sentences he received in these two corruption cases.
During the hearing, the anti-corruption watchdog stated that it had no objections to reopening Nawaz’s appeals. When asked if the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would defend its previous judgments against Nawaz, the anti-corruption body replied that it would review the case and evidence before presenting its arguments.
The Islamabad High Court had granted Nawaz Sharif protective bail on October 19, allowing him to safely return to the country and appear before the court on October 24. Following the NAB’s statement that it had no objections to Nawaz’s pleas, his bail in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases was extended until October 26.
In the Avenfield properties corruption case, Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison in July 2018 for possessing assets beyond his known income, and an additional year for not cooperating with the anti-graft watchdog. Both sentences were to be served simultaneously.
In the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case, he received a seven-year jail sentence on December 24, 2018. He was initially sent to Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail and later transferred to Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail the following day.
Nawaz Sharif was released from jail in March 2019 and traveled to London for medical treatment in November 2019, with permission from the Lahore High Court. However, in December 2020, the Islamabad High Court declared him a proclaimed offender in both cases.
Last week, the protective bail granted by the IHC in both corruption cases allowed Nawaz Sharif to return to the country on October 21, ending his four-year exile.