Maryam denies deal with govt, insists PML-N is intact

KARACHI: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice pre­sident Maryam Nawaz has denied any kind of deal of her party with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and insisted the entire PML-N led by Shehbaz Sha­rif was represented in the recent Swat rally when she was busy with the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) election campaign.

In the ruling party there was an intense infighting that would be visible once the general election approached, she said, insisting that the PTI would not be able to come to power again, according to Dawn.com.

The PML-N leader expressed these views in response to questions during her press talk on Tuesday outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC), where she had gone to appear for the hearing of her appeal against her conviction in Avenfield Apartment reference.

Asked if the PML-N had entered a deal with the government, she said: “Why do you people call everything a deal. This is an inappropriate question. Why will there be any deal? […] Are we mad to have a deal with those we are [fighting] against?”

Believes PTI govt has recognised Israel

Regarding the recent Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) show in Swat and her absence from the public gathering, she insisted the entire PML-N led by Shehbaz Sharif was represented in the rally while she was busy in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) election campaign on the direction of party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif.

She underscored that the PML-N was “not going anywhere”, saying the party was well intact. She also claimed that her party was in the strongest position in AJK and would win the election with an overwhelming majority if free and fair polls were held.

She said the people had lost trust in the current system in view of ‘blatant rigging’ in the past elections.

The PML-N vice-president believed the current approach of the government would take Balochistan further away. “I believe grievances of people of the province should be addressed,” she remarked, recalling that when the Hazara people had invited the premier to their protest, he refused and said they could not blackmail him with coffins.

She said she believed the government had recognised Israel, as “it is not even issuing a denial” to media reports and statements about Pakistan’s reported acceptance of the Jewish nation-state.

She asked the government to apprise the nation of its decision [on Israel]. “It’s not your [prime minister’s] personal decision… it’s something that is linked to 220 million people of Pakistan.”

Appeal against conviction

Meanwhile, an IHC division bench informed the counsel for Maryam Nawaz in the Avenfield Apartment reference that the matter could not be kept pending for an indefinite period after he requested the court to adjourn the hearing for three weeks as he was suffering from spinal pain, our staff reporter adds.

The bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani resumed hearing of the appeals of Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired captain Mohammad Safdar against their conviction in the Avenfield apartments reference.

When Advocate Pervaiz told the court that he could not stand at the rostrum because of his spinal pain, the bench offered him a chair. But when the lawyer expressed inability to advance arguments even while sitting, Justice Kayani quipped, “We can make sitting arrangement for you as there is no facility of resting”.

Justice Farooq made it clear to Advocate Amjad Pervaiz that it had decided to hear the case regularly, as the matter could not be kept pending for an indefinite period. “Get the ball rolling,” he said, adding that the court could work out for hearing of the case. “We may hear the case at least once or twice a week,” he added.

He explained that initially the prosecution of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would be asked to read out charges against the convicts. Then as the prosecution would narrate the evidence, “you may conveniently argue your case then,” the judge remarked.

The same bench segregated the appeals of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif from the appeals of Maryam Nawaz and retired captain Safdar. All the three appeals were heard together until the former prime minister was declared a proclaimed offender.

On July 6, 2018, Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court convicted Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and Capt Safdar in the Avenfield Apartment reference and jailed them for 10 years, seven years and one year, respectively.

The court later suspended their respective sentences. However, Nawaz Sharif’s sentence was restored after he was declared a proclaimed offender. The IHC bench also fixed NAB’s appeal against his acquittal in the Flagship reference.

In April this year, the same bench did not entertain the application of Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin seeking early hearing of NAB’s appeal against his acquittal in the Rental Power Projects case.

Justice Farooq said appeals related to conviction, and not acquittal, would be heard during the smart lockdown. Subsequently, the plea for fixing NAB’s appeals against Mr Tarin’s acquittal was not fixed.

Interim bail plea

Also, the IHC division bench comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Farooq did not entertain the petition of former president Asif Ali Zardari seeking pre-arrest bail in a NAB’s inquiry into his offshore properties.

The court declined to grant interim bail to Mr Zardari, because he was not present before it. “It is mandatory to appear before a court to get pre-arrest bail,” observed Justice Minallah.

Advocate Farooq H. Naek argued that since the ex-president was suffering from multiple ailments, he could not appear before the court amid the pandemic. He also produced medical certificates to corroborate his claim.

However, when Justice Minallah remarked that if the court allowed interim bail to Mr Zardari without his personal appearance it would set a precedent, the counsel requested the court to adjourn the hearing to enable the former president to appear in person.

The bench adjourned the hearing till Wednesday (today).

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2021

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