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ISLAMABAD: The Islam-abad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday observed that it was the government, which permitted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad and now it was its responsibility to ensure his presence before the court.

A division bench comprising Justices Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard Sharif’s appeals against his conviction in the Al-Azizia and the Avenfield properties references.

The bench observed that the government allowed Sharif to go abroad without informing the court that it had excluded his name from the Exit Control List (ECL), and now it was its responsibility to take measures to produce him before the court.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Tariq Mehmood Khokhar submitted a report about the implementation of arrest warrants for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader before the court.

He informed the court that the Foreign Office implemented the non-bailable arrest warrants Sharif issued by this court through the Pakistan High Commission in the UK on September 17 without any delay.

He said a man identified as Yaqoob, first refused to receive warrants, and then the High Commission sent them through the Royal Mail the next day.

The AAG added that Rao Abdul Hanan the consular attaché at the Pakistani High Commission in London visited Nawaz Sharif’s residence.

He further said that Hassan Nawaz, a son of the former prime minister, received the arrest warrants. The AAG also responded in the affirmative to Justice Kayani’s question that whether the address was that of London’s Avenfield Apartments.

Justice Kayani observed that the federal government permitted the convicted criminal to go abroad. Justice Aamer said it was the government, which put Nawaz’s name on the ECL and later removed it from there as well but did not inform the court about this development.

He added that the government should have at least informed this court.

He remarked that they had to make a decision on the appeals and they were waiting for the appearance of the convict.

He said they would not pass an order seeking the return of a convicted man.

He said that “you [the government] gave him permission to go abroad hence, it was up to you now to take steps to ensure his return.”

The court asked from Sharif’s counsel if his client was informed about the arrest warrants.

He replied that as per his information, Nawaz Sharif was aware of the September 15th order of the IHC.

Later, the bench directed the federal government to submit original documents of the warrants received by Nawaz Sharif, and deferred hearing in the matter till Wednesday (today).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020