In a temporary relief to Nawaz Sharif, an accountability court in Pakistan has ordered authorities to release all movable and immovable properties seized from the former prime minister in 2020 in connection with a corruption case.
Judge Muhammad Bashir of the Islamabad accountability court on Friday heard the Toshakhana corruption case against the 73-year-old Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo who returned to Pakistan on October 21 after about four years of self-imposed exile in London, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
In 2020, an accountability court ordered the confiscation of the property owned by the former prime minister in the Toshakhana vehicles reference after he was declared an absconder by the Islamabad High Court.
Accountability judge Bashir was informed that since Sharif had surrendered and his warrant of arrest had been cancelled, the order for attachment of his properties may be withdrawn.
Misbahul Hasan Qazi, the counsel for Sharif, informed the judge that his client had gone abroad for his medical treatment with the permission of the high court.
However, a National Accountability Bureau case was filed against him and proceedings for attachment of his properties were initiated.
The Toshakhana case file against Sharif accuses him of obtaining a vehicle from Toshakhana (the gift depository) by paying 15 per cent of the price of the car. According to reports, Sharif was not holding any public office in 2008 but was given a vehicle without any justification.
A gift from any country to the head of the state and deposited in the Toshakhana remains the property of the government unless sold at an open auction. Rules allow officials to retain gifts with a market value of less than Rs10,000 without paying anything.
More than 1,650 canals (over 200 acres) of agricultural land, a Mercedes Benz car, a Land Cruiser, and other vehicles were confiscated by the three-time prime minister in 2020 after he was declared a proclaimed offender in the Toshakhana case, according to the report.
The court had ordered the seizure after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) submitted a report to an accountability court, providing complete details of Sharif's movable and immovable assets, during a hearing of the Toshakhana case.
Sharif had gone to London in 2019 after getting a medical bail following his conviction in the Avenfield Apartment and Al-Azizia corruption cases.
Ahead of Sharif's arrival in Pakistan, his legal team approached the Islamabad High Court, which granted him a protective bail until October 24 in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia cases. An anti-corruption court suspended his arrest warrant in the Toshakhana case.
During the hearing, the NAB prosecutor contended that Sharif had surrendered, therefore, his arrest warrant should be cancelled. If the warrants are cancelled, then the trial can move forward, he said.
The judge subsequently confirmed Sharif's bail in the case against surety bonds of Rs 1 million. The hearing of the case was adjourned till November 20.The former premier is all set to lead the PML-N during the general elections, which are scheduled to be held on February 8. Earlier this month, he directed his party leaders to begin their preparations for the national elections.