Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif will return to Pakistan on June 11, an accountability court in Lahore was told on Tuesday.
On the last hearing of the two cases — Ashiyana Housing Scheme scandal and Ramzan Sugar Mills — Sharif’s lawyer had told the court that the opposition leader would return after Eidul Fitr. Accountability court judge Jawadul Hassan, however, had asked for a “final date” of his return.
Sharif had announced a “quick visit” to London on April 9 after his name was removed from the no-fly list on Lahore High Court orders. Party sources had said that he intended to return within 10-12 days.
Spokesperson of the Sharif family, Atta Tarrar, who was representing Sharif in the absence of his lawyer on Tuesday, gave the date June 11.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor, Waris Ali Janjua, however, objected to Tarrar’s statement, arguing that his vakalatnama [power of attorney] had not yet been submitted in court. “In which capacity is Tarrar saying this [in court]?” he questioned.
“Let’s wait for the lawyer of Shahbaz Sharif,” the judge said. Amjad Pervez, the counsel for Sharif, appeared before the court after a brief break and confirmed the same.
Meanwhile, the accountability watchdog asked the court to reject Sharif’s plea seeking exemption from appearing during hearings of the two cases.
The bureau submitted that all the medical tests of the opposition leader can be conducted in Pakistan. The medical treatment of Sharif can also be carried out in the country, NAB said.
NAB alleged that medical treatment was being used as a pretext for exemption from the hearings. It added that Sharif went abroad without obtaining approval from the court and that he should have sought permission from the court before leaving.
The bureau asked the court to reject the plea and issue arrest warrants against Shahbaz Sharif. The accountability court, however, rejected NAB’s plea and granted an exemption to Sharif till the next hearing on June 13.
Also on Tuesday, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shahbaz appeared before the court in Ramzan Sugar Mills case. Fawad Hassan Fawad, Ahad Cheema and other accused in the two cases also appeared before the court.
On May 25, Sharif’s lawyer had told the court that his client had an appointment with his doctor in Pakistan on June 7.
The judge had demanded evidence to justify Sharif’s visit to London. “Which document do I have which shows that [his] medical treatment is not possible in Pakistan?” he had asked.
Sharif’s lawyer had insisted that doctors in Pakistan had suggested the PML-N president to go to London for medical treatment.
In the Ashiyana housing scam, Sharif is accused of ordering the cancellation of a contract given to successful bidder Chaudhry Latif and Sons for the low-cost housing scheme, which led to the award of the contract to Lahore Casa Developers, a proxy group of Paragon City Private Limited, resulting in a loss of Rs193 million.
In the Ramzan Sugar Mills corruption case, Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shahbaz are accused of “fraudulently and dishonestly” causing a Rs213 million loss to the national exchequer.