LAHORE: The Lahore high court on Monday directed the federal government to file a reply on October 22 in a petition seeking action against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif under treason charges for claiming that those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack.
Former Pakistan premiers Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, along with prominent journalist for Dawn newspaper Cyril Almeida, appeared before the full bench of the Lahore high court on Monday.
Almeida is also a respondent in the case being heard by a three-member bench headed by Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi.
The court also ordered Sharif, Abbasi and Almeida to submit written replies to the court by the next hearing.
It inquired deputy attorney general Mian Tariq about the action the government had taken with respect to Article 6 (treason) in this case.
“Taking action under Article 6 is the government’s job … what has it done so far?” Justice Jahangir, a member of the bench, asked.
The court also ordered Almeida’s name be removed from no-fly list (exit control list) and withdrew his non-bailable warrants.
The petition was filed by Amina Malik, a civil society activist, against Sharif for his interview to Dawn in May last year in which he had said that those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack case actually belonged to Pakistan.
The petitioner said the “anti-state” statement of Sharif — a three-time prime minister — could be used against Pakistan by its enemies.
She said a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) was held to discuss the “misleading” statement of the disqualified premier and later the then prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met Sharif and conveyed to him the concerns of the military leadership on his statement.
“The act of Abbasi was also a clear violation of his oath as he was bound not to allow his personal interest to influence his official conduct,” she said.
Contending that Sharif had betrayed the nation, the petition stated that a treason case should be instituted against him for giving the controversial interview and allowing it to go on air. The hearing has been adjourned until October 22.
Sharif, who was recently released from jail after receiving bail in the Avenfield case, had been absent from previous hearings as he had been receiving condolences over the death of his wife Kulsoom.
Earlier, Almeida had been put on ‘Exit Control List’ (ECL) after he wrote a front-page story about a rift between Pakistan’s civilian and military leaderships over terrorist groups that operate from Pakistan but engage in war against India and Afghanistan.
The ECL is a system of border control maintained by Pakistan government under an ordinance which allows it to bar people whose names appear on the list from leaving the country.
The Foreign Office had vehemently rejected the report and termed it “speculative”.