In the Toshakhana case, an accountability court in Islamabad has accepted the plea of PML-N Quaid and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, suspending his permanent arrest warrants till October 24. The hearing was conducted by a division bench led by Chief Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Mian Gul Hassan.
Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, is scheduled to return to his home country on October 21, marking his first return in over four years after a period of self-imposed exile.
Prior to his arrival, a significant legal development unfolded in an Islamabad accountability court regarding his case in what is known as the Toshakhana reference. This case also involves former President Asif Ali Zardari and ex-Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The allegations in this case revolve around the trio receiving luxury vehicles and gifts from the Toshakhana, which is a department responsible for storing gifts given to leaders, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by foreign heads of state and dignitaries.
In June 2020, an accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Nawaz Sharif in connection with this case. A few months later, Nawaz Sharif initiated legal proceedings by challenging these warrants in the Islamabad High Court. However, he withdrew his petition shortly after.
The situation took a more serious turn when, on September 10, 2020, Nawaz Sharif was declared a proclaimed offender in the case. This led to an accountability court initiating a process to confiscate his properties, along with directing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to pursue his arrest through Interpol. Subsequently, in the following month, another accountability court ordered the authorities to seize various assets belonging to the former Prime Minister, including national and international bank accounts, agricultural land, and vehicles.
Adding to the complexity of the case, after the Supreme Court’s decision to reopen corruption cases against public office holders, an accountability court summoned Asif Ali Zardari and Yousuf Raza Gilani in the same Toshakhana case last month.
In the most recent legal proceedings, Nawaz Sharif’s lawyer, Qazi Misbah, presented a request for the suspension of the non-bailable arrest warrants against his client. He informed the court that Nawaz Sharif intended to make a court appearance on October 24, explaining that this date was already set for another case.
The prosecutor, in response, mentioned that Nawaz Sharif had expressed his desire to surrender before the court. Consequently, the court decided to suspend the warrants until October 24 and directed Nawaz Sharif to appear before the court by that date. The court also warned that if he failed to appear by the specified date, further legal action would be taken.