NAB opposes suspension of Nawaz’s sentence in Al-Azizia case

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Saturday submitted its reply to a petition filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif seeking the suspension of his sentence in the Al-Azizia/Hill Metal Establishment reference in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The accountability watchdog urged the court to dismiss the petition with costs, saying it is “neither maintainable nor competent”.

Accountability court Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik had on December 24 last year convicted Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills Company and Hill Metal Establishment reference and awarded him seven years imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs1.5 billion and $25 million. The three-time former prime minister is currently serving his sentence in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Sharif had in January challenged his conviction in the IHC, claiming that the accountability court’s verdict in the case is marred with flaws and legal lacunas. He had also filed an application seeking suspension of the sentence.

In its para-wise comments submitted in response to the former premier’s petition for the suspension of the sentence, NAB has stated that Sharif’s health has not deteriorated during his incarceration and that he is in a “stable condition”. Moreover, there is neither a recommendation of immediate surgery to be performed on him nor does the prognosis in his medical reports indicate a “severe ailment endangering the life of the petitioner”.

NAB also rejected the claim that Sharif should be granted bail due to the stress allegedly being suffered by him while in incarceration. “The so-called stress factor is not [a] life-threatening disease and has been inferred from the certification of doctors procured by the personal physician of the petitioner and therefore has no bearing as to [the] physical and medical condition of the petitioner,” it said.

It noted that the Supreme Court through its order of March 26 had given Sharif the opportunity to get the treatment of his choice, albeit in Pakistan, “which was not availed by him”.

The bureau stated that Sharif’s physical and mental health is constantly monitored in the jail, adding: “The petitioner has failed to make a case of extraordinary circumstances and of extreme hardship.”

Arguing against the grant of bail to Sharif, the anti-graft watchdog stated that “there is all the likelihood” that the PML-N supremo may abuse the concession of bail, if granted by the court.

It concluded that the former prime minister’s appeal against his conviction in the corruption reference is fixed for hearing in the IHC “as an alternate and efficacious remedy” and thus his petition for the suspension of the sentence merits to be dismissed.

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