Maryam Nawaz Sharif hailed the verdict and said that their stance stood “vindicated.” Image Credit: AP

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday acquitted Maryam Nawaz, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and Vice-President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in Avenfield Reference in which she was convicted by the Accountability Court back in July 2018.

A division bench of the IHC in a short order maintained the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had failed to establish any role of Maryam Nawz in the purchase of the Avenfield properties in London.

Thus Maryam and her husband’s appeals for setting aside the NAB court’s conviction are admitted.

The high court also overturned Maryam’s husband Captain Mohammad Safdar’s one-year conviction by the Accountability Court for not cooperating with the anti-graft agency, NAB.

After the short verdict, Maryam Nawaz in a brief media talk outside the IHC, hailed the verdict and said that their stance stood “vindicated.”

“I want to see the faces of those who had conspired against my father ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his government, our family members and the workers of the PML-N.”

“I am wondering how they (the conspirators and collaborators) would be feeling today for working against the interests of the country,” said Marhyam Nawaz while replying to a question.

As Maryam started talking to media persons, she received phone calls from her father Nawaz Sharif and uncle, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and thanked them for their congratulatory calls.

“Today I am missing my mother as she would be the happiest person on earth to see me finally vindicated from the false and fabricated cases,” said Maryam.

IHC grills NAB

Earlier, as the hearing began, the presiding judge of the division bench Justice Aamer Farooq observed the NAB counsel had failed to establish that Nawaz had no direct role in purchasing the Avenfield properties in London.

The court observed that it has been repeatedly asked to prove how Maryam was complicit in the properties bought in 1993 by signing a trust deed in 2006.

Later, the judge remarked that the NAB had failed to present any document or proof that could establish Maryam Nawaz’ involvement in corruption.

The other member of the bench Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiani too said the case did not have any substantial material to prove the NAB stance. On the other hand, it has all the merits to be dismissed.

Maryam was given 7 years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau. These sentences however had to run concurrently so she was to serve 7 years in total.

According to the Accountability Court’s verdict, she had aided, assisted, abetted, attempted and acted in conspiracy with her father. “The trust deeds produced by the accused Maryam Nawaz were also found bogus,” read the judgment. However, in the IHC it was proved by Maryam’s lawyer the Calibri font in which the trust deed was written was very much in practice and could be downloaded.

In the previous hearing last week, the NAB prosecutor told the bench that these cases were filed on the orders of the Supreme Court. To this the IHC observed that after the order of the Supreme Court, the reference was filed and the trial was conducted. It added that NAB had to prove all the allegations independently.