ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday ordered issuing an advertisement in national newspapers to summon former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif as he had been declared a proclaimed offender in Al-Azizia Steel Mills and Avenfield Apartments references.

The IHC bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kiyani heard the appeals of Nawaz Sharif and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the above graft references, issued the order as the arrest warrants for Nawaz Sharif were not received by anybody at his address in London, United Kingdom. 

First Secretary to Pakistan High Commission in Britain Dildar Ali Abro and Counsellor Attache Abdul Hannan recorded their statements through video link.

Dildar Ali Abro informed the court that Nawaz’s arrest warrants were received at the high commission on September 17 and were sent to the accused’s address in UK through Royal Mail service same day. He also presented the receipts of the delivery of mail and its tracker number to the bench. 

Counsellor Attache Abdul Hannan said he personally visited the residence of Nawaz Sharif where an aide named Yaqoob refused to receive the arrest warrants stating that he had no such permission in that regard. He visited Nawaz’s residence twice on September 17, and 28 to deliver the court orders. 

Director Europe for Foreign Affairs Muhammad Mubashir Khan told the bench that he had the copies of Nawaz Sharif’s arrest warrants, which were received through post service. The receipt of documents and then sending it through the mail at the accused’s address had been entered in a record register. The warrants were served with a covering letter through fax and diplomatic bag. 

Mubashir Khan submitted the relevant record to the court on its directions. NAB Prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana pleaded before the court that total three persons involved in the whole process had recorded their statements and it was clear that the former prime minister had not received the warrants deliberately. He prayed the court to issue an advertisement in the media to summon the accused. 

At this, the bench ordered to give an advertisement in three newspapers to summon the former prime minister and instructed the registrar office to fix hearing of the case after 30 days of printing of the advertisement.

Later, during an informal chat with reporters, the National Accountability Bureau prosecutor said that the advertisements’ proposed text will state that Nawaz Sharif has 30 days to return to Pakistan.