SC dismisses NAB’s appeal against ex-PM Sharif’s bail

The Sharif family had petitioned the Islamabad High Court against the Avenfield verdict on July 16. (AFP/File)
Updated 14 January 2019

SC dismisses NAB’s appeal against ex-PM Sharif’s bail

  • Anti-corruption watchdog fails to provide solid ground for cancelation of the bail
  • Lies and propaganda stand exposed, ex-premier’s close aide says

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) appeal against the suspension of sentences handed down to ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and son-in-law Retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in the Avenfield corruption case.
A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, upheld a verdict issued by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which — in September last year — had ordered to suspend the trio’s prison sentences until a final judgment had been passed in the case.
“Person (Nawaz Sharif) is in prison and there is no allegation about the misuse of bail. We have a constitution to follow and we will make sure justice prevails,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, one of the bench members, said while hearing the petition.
In its ruling, the apex court said that the anti-corruption watchdog has failed to provide a “solid ground” for the cancelation of the bail; therefore its appeal stands rejected.
In July last year, an accountability court handed three-times premier Sharif a 10-year jail term for owning assets beyond declared sources of income, while Maryam was sentenced to seven years in jail for being “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father”.
The convicts appealed against their jail sentences and the IHC issued orders for them to be released on bail. The NAB subsequently challenged the verdict in the apex court, but its appeal was rejected.
The apex court’s judgment brings a rare relief to the beleaguered Sharif family who has ruled the country for more than three decades, but currently both of its leaders – Nawaz Sharif and his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif – are currently lodged in jail for their involvement in multiple corruption cases.
Reacting to the verdict, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahidullah Khan, who is also a close aide of the ex-premier, said that the truth has prevailed, hoping that Sharifs would stand vindicated in other “fabricated cases” too.
“Everybody knows that Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were framed in false cases ahead of last year’s general elections,” he told Arab News, adding that “the lies and propaganda against them stand exposed now and I am sure they will emerge victorious from this crisis.”
The apex court disqualified Nawaz from holding any public office for life after he was found guilty in a case instigated by the so-called “Panama Papers” leaks, related to alleged cases of corruption during his previous two terms in office.
The ex-premier is currently serving a seven-year jail term in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, one of the three references filed against him as a consequence of the Panama Papers leaks.
Sharafat Ali, a senior high court advocate and one of the legal team members representing the Sharif family, said that Nawaz and Maryam still have a long legal battle to fight to prove their innocence in the corruption cases
“The completion of the legal process in the cases may take years, but the IHC may grant interim relief to Nawaz Sharif by suspending his jail term like it did in the Avenfield case,” he told Arab News.


EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

Updated 01 July 2020

EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

  • The step has been taken due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards
  • PIA expects the ‘earliest possible’ lifting of suspension after action by the government and the airline

ISLAMABAD: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to fly to the bloc for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, in a major blow to the country’s flag carrier.
Separately, the safety agency said it took the action due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards at all times.
The suspension follows Pakistan’s grounding of 262 of the country’s 860 pilots — including 141 of PIA’s 434 — whose licenses the aviation minister termed “dubious.”
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal,” PIA said in a statement. It added it would temporarily discontinue all its flights to Europe.
Confirming the move in an emailed statement, the EASA referred to a recent investigation by Pakistan which it said showed a “large share” of pilot licenses to be invalid.
Pakistan’s grounding of the pilots followed a preliminary report on a PIA crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month.
PIA said it is in contact with the EASA to take corrective measures and appeal against the decision, adding that it expected the “earliest possible” lifting of the suspension after action by the government and the airline.
The EASA also suspended the authorization of another Pakistani airline, Vision Air International.
Vision Air International did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Following the EASA’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it, too, was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports, as required under law.
“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the UK authority told Reuters.
The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots and their union, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), say there are discrepancies in the government’s list of pilots with licenses deemed dubious and are demanding a judicial investigation.
PIA and private airline Air Blue have also queried the list with PIA saying 36 of its pilots mentioned had either retired or left the airline, while Air Blue said it no longer employed seven of nine pilots on the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” PALPA’s president, Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”
An official at Pakistan’s aviation ministry, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, said they did not have full details of the discrepancies. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”