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Former Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer recuses himself from corruption cases

Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and his team walked out of the case, saying the Supreme Court had instructed the accountability or anti-corruption court to wrap up proceedings in the cases within a month and to conduct hearings on Saturday.

world Updated: Jun 12, 2018 09:13 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Nawaz Sharif,National Accountability Bureau,Khawaja Haris
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. (AFP File Photo)

Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer Khawaja Haris on Monday recused himself from representing the former premier in several corruption cases filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against the Sharif family on the ground that he could no longer work under the pressure imposed on him by the Supreme Court.

The lawyer and his team walked out of the case, saying they could not perform under such pressure. Haris said the Supreme Court had instructed the accountability or anti-corruption court to wrap up proceedings in the cases within a month and to conduct hearings on Saturday.

“The court can’t do justice to the case under this pressure,” Haris said. Subsequently, he withdrew his power of attorney in the case.

Sharif accused the chief justice of the Supreme Court of rushing through hearings in the three corruption cases against him. “Does the chief justice (Saqib Nisar) not know that justice rushed is justice crushed?” Sharif told reporters on Monday.

“This last episode of the game that began with Panama (papers) is an extremely unfortunate example of oppression and injustice,” he said, repeating his previous claims of injustices meted out to him in the case.

Sharif claimed his fundamental rights were being violated as no lawyer would take up a case where he is not even allowed time to prepare and is asked to appear even on the weekends.

On June 10, the Supreme Court had given four weeks to the anti-corruption court to wrap up proceedings. The order was issued after the court heard arguments by NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi and Haris. The court further said the judge was free to fix timings for the hearings.

Judge Mohammad Bashir of the anti-corruption court questioned Sharif regarding his counsel. “Who will be your lawyer now? Or will you convince Haris to return?” Bashir said. “I can only tell after consultations, I need some time,” Sharif replied.

The case was indefinitely adjourned in the absence of Sharif’s counsel. In an application titled “Withdrawal of vakalatnamas from titled case”, Haris said the defence had asked the court numerous times to club the three cases against the Sharif family and save time.

Haris and his team had submitted multiple pleas on behalf of Sharif for the simultaneous recording of statements from the head of the investigation team Wajid Zia. However, all the pleas to club the cases were rejected. Haris expressed his displeasure at this “miscarriage of justice”.

In May, the apex court gave the anti-corruption court time till June 9 but a special bench dismissed a request by Sharif’s lawyer’s to extend the deadline by three months.

Haris had earlier said it would not be possible for him to complete the proceedings in a month. “It would also be embarrassing for the accountability judge and the lawyers to appear repeatedly before the apex court to request extensions,” he had said.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Jun 12, 2018 00:06 IST