In order to make Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif’s homecoming “historical”, the former ruling party secured permission to hold a rally at the Greater Iqbal Park on October 21, the day when the three-time former prime minister is scheduled to return to Pakistan, it emerged on Sunday.
The PML-N supremo will also deliver his maiden speech during the party’s power show after a span of almost four years.
The three-time former prime minister landed in London in November 2019 in an air ambulance to seek medical treatment for multiple diseases after he was allowed to leave Pakistan by the Lahore High Court (LHC).
In a statement, the district administration said that the former ruling party had been informed about the terms and conditions for the rally at the park. At the same time, the PML-N was directed to obtain separate permission from the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Karachi ahead of holding the rally.
The PML-N submitted an affidavit to the city administration wherein the former ruling party assured that it would pay the Parks and Horticulture Authority for any kind of damage in the park during the public meeting.
The district administration further said that they would remain in close contact with the authorities concerned on matters related to security, flow of traffic and organisers of the public gathering. A traffic plan and traffic advisory will be issued soon to avoid an inconvenience for the public.
Nawaz performs Umrah
On October 12, the former premier — who was on his way back home after four years of self-imposed exile — accompanied by his son Hussain Sharif and other close aides performed Umrah following his landing in Saudi Arabia ahead of his return to Pakistan.
Nawaz had left London for Pakistan via Riyadh and Dubai — on Wednesday.
After performing Umrah, the PML-N supremo will reside in Dubai for three days and then fly to Pakistan in a chartered plane on October 21 to address a gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan, where he will chalk out his agenda ahead of the next elections.
Nawaz stepped down as the country’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.
The flight carrying Nawaz to Pakistan will have the name “Umeed-e-Pakistan”, which can carry approximately 150 passengers. “The booking has been made and all arrangements are in place,” said a source.
The special flight will land in Islamabad from Dubai before proceeding to Lahore, where Nawaz will address the gathering arranged by his party.
Bail or jail?
PML-N senior leader Ishaq Dar says there is no chance of Nawaz being arrested on return to Pakistan.
He said that transit bail and protective bail would be obtained from the court. “Nawaz Sharif will follow the standard legal procedures.”
The former finance minister also said that PML-N’s narrative would be focusing on the economy. “Recovery of the economy is the best revenge.”
Nawaz will return to Pakistan next week with the status of a convicted criminal as he has been sentenced in two graft cases.
The former premier will have to get the sentences awarded to him in two National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases suspended upon his return to the country by filing appeals in the respective court.
He will have to file the appeals all over again, as for the first time, when he had filed the pleas for his acquittal and nullification of the sentence, they were thrown out by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) due to his status as an absconder and also owing to non-pursuance on the case.
Besides getting the convictions in both cases suspended, the PML-N supremo will also have to take the legal option for protection from arrest till he reaches a court.
In this regard, some legal experts believe that being an absconder, Nawaz will not be able to get any relief without having a trip to the prison.
Meanwhile, some others oppose this point and are of the view that whenever a convict surrenders before the court, it gives him a chance to face the law.
Ex-president of the IHC Bar Association Shoaib Shaheen told Geo.tv that even for an absconder, the court can grant the relief of a protective bail in “extraordinary circumstances”.
“However, there is no room [for such a relief] in the law for a convicted criminal, nor is there any such judicial precedent available,” he added.
He said that no absconding convict can have his plea heard in the court until they surrender themselves before the law.
Meanwhile, Niazullah Niazi, an Islamabad-based lawyer, said that Nawaz had gotten the bail after suspension of the sentence awarded to him but the bail has expired.
He said that the sentence had been restored after Nawaz was declared an absconder and now the court cannot entertain any petition until the absconding criminal appears before it and surrenders.
“Nawaz will have to seek bail after going to jail, then the court can give him any relief,” he said.
Commenting on the matter, former advocate general Islamabad Barrister Jahangir Jadoon, said: “Nawaz Sharif — upon his return — might get protection for reaching court.”
He mentioned that when arrest warrants are issued after an individual is declared a proclaimed offender, the accused/suspect is to be apprehended and made to surrender before the law.
“If a proclaimed offender intends to surrender voluntarily, the court then allows him to do so. Nawaz would have to move the high court to revive the appeal against his sentence, as well as seek suspension of his sentence so that this matter could be decided upon soon,” Jadoon said while commenting on the prospects if the former prime minister surrenders before the court.
Jadoon said if Nawaz’s sentence is not suspended despite surrendering before the court, then the former prime minister might have to go to jail.
Meanwhile, Advocate Amjad Pervaiz said that the PML-N supremo, despite being a proclaimed offender, can file an application for protective bail.
Convictions and court orders
It is pertinent to note that an accountability court sentenced the three-time prime minister in Avenfield and Al-Azizia Steel Mills references.
The sentence was challenged in the high court which had suspended the accountability court’s sentence.
Appeal proceedings — for the petition challenging the sentence — were underway when Nawaz travelled abroad for medical treatment and didn’t return to pursue the case.
The PML-N supremo — after he moved to the LHC instead of the IHC — was allowed to go abroad for four weeks after his brother and party president Shehbaz Sharif submitted an undertaking in the court assuring Nawaz’s return once his health improves.
The IHC — in the absence of the PML-N supremo — threw out the appeals on account of “non-prosecution” instead of adjourning the proceedings for an indefinite period.
The court, while declaring Nawaz as a proclaimed offender, noted that the appeals were rejected on technical grounds and not on the merits of the arguments.
The applicant can once again file an appeal against the sentence upon his return, the court added.