Former PM Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer, Khawaja Haris, withdrew from representing him in the NAB references against his family on Monday.
On Sunday, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar ordered the NAB court to wind up the hearings of all three corruption references against the Sharif family in a month. The Supreme Court rejected the plea of Khawaja Haris, who asked for six weeks to complete the trial.
A day later, Haris withdrew from representing the former PM in the cases. He appeared before the accountability court on Monday along with Mr Sharif.
He said that the top court had ordered the accountability court to decide the cases in one month. According to him, the court cannot do justice with the cases under this kind of pressure.
He wrote to the accountability court that the Supreme Court rejected his plea for six weeks and gave the ‘dictation’ to decide the case in a month. He said that it is not possible for him to work in the given conditions when the court plans on hearing the cases on Saturdays and Sundays as well.
The lawyer said the prosecution took nine months for evidence in one reference. Evidence has yet to be completed for the other two references, he said.
The accountability court accepted his withdrawal. The judge asked the former PM whether he would convince Haris to resume the job or appoint another lawyer. Mr Sharif said he needs some days for consultation.
When the former PM was asked to come to the rostrum, he asked Haris to accompany him. Haris excused himself, saying he has withdrawn from the case. Former information minister Pervaiz Rashid then accompanied Mr Sharif.
Cases cannot proceed until all the parties have legal representation in the court. Haris’ withdrawal from the case is likely to delay the corruption references against the Sharif family.
The road so far
The Supreme Court disqualified then PM Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case on July 27, 2017, from holding public office. The deposed PM’s name did not appear in the Panama Papers. The papers linked, however, his children to offshore companies and properties.
The court ordered National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate into the Sharif family’s wealth as there was “insufficient evidence” to oust the PM over allegations pertaining to his family’s wealth. NAB filed three corruption references against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Hasan Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar.
The Panama Papers described Maryam as “the owner of British Virgin Islands-based firms Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, incorporated in 1994 and 1993”.
The Sharif family denies involvement in any kind of corruption.