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Punjab Government Suspends Nawaz Sharif’s Sentence in Al-Azizia Reference

Lahore: The caretaker Punjab government has suspended the sentence of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference.

The leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Nawaz Sharif, had requested the Punjab government to suspend his sentence. The request was made in light of the Islamabad High Court’s decision to defer his sentence. The provincial cabinet of the caretaker Punjab government has granted approval for suspending Nawaz Sharif’s sentence under Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the Al-Azizia reference.

Section 401 of the Criminal Procedure Code empowers the government to suspend a convict’s sentence. Nawaz Sharif’s sentence was also suspended under Section 401 before his departure to London in 2019.

Punjab’s caretaker Provincial Information Minister Amer Mahmood stated that the Punjab government has suspended the sentence under the constitutional powers of Section 401 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). He said they have the authority to suspend the sentence, and not to end it. Regarding this matter, former Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said that the case was referred to the Islamabad High Court. The former Chief Justice Athar Minallah approved this judgment, and the cabinet made the decision after careful consideration of legal advice. He questioned how anyone could object to this decision.

Ashtar Ausaf further stated that cases against Nawaz Sharif were created in haste, and legal complexities were not resolved. Furthermore, he added that the past cases included Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, and Saad Rafique. There is a long list of cases from previous times, but these complexities were not in the law; they were in the process. In their cases, no dates were assigned; if there were, the judges would retire, and they were subject to prolonged proceedings due to certain issues.

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