Pakistan Cabinet reverses Sharif prison trial decision

Prime Minister Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk chairs meeting of the Federal Cabinet at PM office in Islamabad on July 18, 2018. (Source: Press Information Department)
Updated 19 July 2018
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Pakistan Cabinet reverses Sharif prison trial decision

  • The government decided to hold open trial of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, who were given jail terms by accountability court on July 6
  • The former ruling family faces two more corruption cases against them

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s caretaker federal Cabinet on Wednesday reversed a decision to hold the trial of convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and political heir-apparent Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar Awan in prison.
The cabinet meeting was chaired by interim Prime Minster Nasirul Mulk.
Sharif is also facing a verdict in the Al Azizia and Flagship Investment corruption cases.
The former premier, his daughter and son-in-law were convicted in the Avenfield case earlier this month and sentenced to a 10, seven and one-year prison term, respectively.
The accountability court also fined the three-times former prime minister £8 million and his daughter £2 million.
The three are being held at the Central Jail Rawalpindi, known as Adiala, a notorious maximum-security prison. Following their complaints about the “abysmal” condition of their holding cells, better facilities were provided.
A member of Sharif’s defense counsel, led by Khawaja Harris, said the Cabinet had taken the decision “under pressure” following accusations of harassment, mistreatment and inadequate jail facilities.
Senior Advocate Sharafat Ali, assisting Sharif’s legal team, told Arab News: “The notification to conduct a jail trial of Nawaz Sharif who appeared over 100 times in the accountability court, was a hasty decision of the interim government.
“Prison trials are held due to high security, often of those involved in terrorist activity. To withdraw from its previous order is a step to do right to a wrong already done.”
The three prisoners filed two petitions in the Islamabad High Court hoping to overturn the verdict and transfer the remaining two corruption cases to another accountability court, but the higher forum on Tuesday adjourned the hearing till after the July 25 general elections.


Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”