LAHORE  -  The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday summoned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on October 8 and issued non-bailable arrest warrants for journalist Cyril Almeida in a high treason case.

Earlier this year, the ex-premier had sparked a controversy when he made a statement about the Mumbai attacks in an interview to Almeida for Dawn newspaper.

A civil society member Amina Malik filed a case, through Advocate Azhar Siddique, seeking action against Sharif, Aldeida and then PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi under treason charges

The petitioner contended that Sharif attempted to discredit state institutions by issuing misleading remarks about the Mumbai attacks during an interview to the reporter, who in turn also committed treason by reporting the sensitive content.

The petition sought action against Abbasi for alleged dishonoring of his oath by disclosing the minutes of a National Security Council (NSC) meeting, which discussed the Dawn Leaks issue, to his party Quaid - Nawaz Sharif.

A three-member bench, led by Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi took up the case for hearing yesterday. Ex-PM Abbasi appeared in the court but Sharif and Almedia were absent.

Justice Naqvi expressed anger over Almeida’s non-appearance in the last three hearings and told his lawyer they would issue non-bailable arrest warrants for the journalist so the police could take him into custody and presented in the court.

When the lawyer pleaded for issuing bailable warrants, the court asked him if he could give an assurance about Almeida’s appearance in next hearing. The lawyer expressed his inability to give such an assurance.

The court then issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the journalist and directed police to present him in court on next hearing.

The bench also ordered the authorities concerned to place Almeida’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Defence counsel Advocate Naseer Bhutta apprised the bench that Nawaz Sharif was unable to appear in court as people were frequently visiting him for condoling his wife’s death. He requested for fixing the hearing for a date falling after the traditional 40-day mourning period.

Accepting the request, Justice Naqvi fixed the hearing for October 8 and ordered Nawaz to appear in person at the next hearing.