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pakistan
Monday Oct 22 2018
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Nawaz, Abbasi refute treason allegations; case adjourned till Nov 12

LAHORE: Former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday refuted treason allegations against them as ‘unimaginable’ and ‘baseless’ in their replies submitted to the Lahore High Court (LHC).

A three-member LHC full bench headed by Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi and comprising Justice Atir Mahmood and Justice Chaudhry Masood Jahangir heard the treason petition against Abbasi, Nawaz and journalist Cyril Almeida.

The bench had directed the former premiers to submit a reply in court today regarding the case.

Nawaz in his reply submitted in court after consultations with his legal aides stated that “an allegation as grave as treason is unimaginable”.

“In my head, several questions are being raised as to whether the Pakistani nation is also treacherous and whether the patriotism of the millions who voted me into power is also questionable,” Nawaz said in his reply.

The former premier further questioned, “Can those who make the country supreme be treacherous? Or can those who eliminate terrorism from the country be treacherous?”

“I belong to the family which migrated for Pakistan and this country’s soil is more valuable to me than my life,” he added.

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s reply

Meanwhile, Abbasi also submitted his reply and said the allegations against him were “false, baseless and based on lies”.

“I did not speak to Nawaz regarding the National Security Council (NSC) meeting and only discussed party matters with him” Abbasi stated in his reply.

The former premier further said, “The news report mentioned in the petition is also factually incorrect.”

Hearing adjourned till November 12

During the hearing today, former premier Abbasi appeared before the bench but Nawaz failed to.

Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi questioned why Nawaz did not appear in court and remarked, "He should have been present for the hearing."

Nawaz's counsel, Naseer Bhutta responded, "You had summoned a reply which has been submitted." Justice Naqvi then stated, "Look Abbasi respects the courts and is present today."

Bhutta in response said, "Nawaz did not appear today and this does not mean that he does not respect the courts." The head of the three-judge bench then stated, "If Nawaz could not appear today for whatever reason, then you should have submitted a petition."

Responding to the judge, Nawaz's counsel said, "During the first hearing I got the impression that my client only has to appear once."

At this, Justice Naqvi remarked, "It is fine that you got the wrong impression, but next time a petition should be submitted over failure to appear in court."

The hearing of the case was then adjourned till November 12.

The case

The petition, lodged by Advocate Azhar Siddiqui, alleges that Abbasi shared crucial details of the National Security Council (NSC) meeting with Nawaz following his statements on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

By leaking details of the NSC Abbasi committed high treason, the petition says.

The petitioner had argued that Nawaz's controversial interview to a newspaper had dented the country’s image and sovereignty. He further alleged that Abbasi supported Nawaz in the matter.

The petitioner further prayed upon the court to order a treason trial against the three respondents.

In July, the Lahore High Court had decided to adjourn the hearing till after the general elections.

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