Nawaz's appeal against conviction in corruption cases reinstated, PML-N supporters celebrate outside the court

Pankaj Prasad
Former PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif
Former PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad High Court has given big relief to Nawaz Sharif in two high profile corruption cases.

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday reinstated PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif's appeals against his conviction in two high-profile corruption cases. Nawaz appeared in the court for the second time along with his younger brother and party president Shehbaz Sharif after returning home from London on October 21 after nearly four years of self-exile.

A two-member division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb delivered the verdict. The bench gave this verdict while hearing the petitions seeking protective bail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mill and Avonfield corruption cases of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Celebrating the resumption of the appeals, his party said in a post on Twitter: "Congratulations to the whole of Pakistan for the restoration of justice. A large number of his supporters gathered outside the High Court building and started raising slogans in his support.

Sharif had earlier been granted protective bail till October 24, when he appeared in court to surrender and also filed petitions to revive his appeals in both the cases. The court had issued a notice to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after the preliminary hearing and adjourned the hearing till today.

During the hearing, NAB prosecutor told the court that the anti-corruption watchdog (NAB) was not interested in arresting Nawaz Sharif, while his lawyer insisted on reinstating the appeals. NAB also refused to oppose the petition of Sharif's lawyers. After completion of the arguments, the court had reserved the decision which it announced later.

On Tuesday, the caretaker government of Pakistan's Punjab province had suspended Sharif's seven-year sentence in the Al-Azizia corruption case. Sharif was convicted in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption case and sentenced to seven years in prison in December 2018. While delivering the verdict, the judge had said at the time that there was solid evidence against him in the Al-Azizia case.

He was also convicted by an accountability court in the Avenfield property case in July 2018 and sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was arrested and jailed, but was released after being granted bail pending his appeal against his acquittal in the case. Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz was also sentenced to seven years in prison in the Avenfield case, but was acquitted along with her husband Muhammad Safdar in September 2022.