In a massive relief for the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), the Islamabad High Court (IHC) acquitted PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Avenfield reference on Wednesday.

The verdict was announced by a two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.


Nawaz Sharif was facing a 10-year jail sentence in the Avenfield properties corruption reference since July 2018, charged with owning assets beyond known income. An additional one-year sentence was imposed for non-cooperation with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), both to be served concurrently.

Having been declared a proclaimed offender in two cases, Al-Azizia and Avenfield, in December 2020, Nawaz Sharif spent nearly four years in London on medical grounds before returning to Pakistan last month. Upon his return, he sought the restoration of appeals against his convictions, which had been dismissed for non-prosecution during his medical stay abroad.

The second case against Nawaz was the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, for which Nawaz Sharif received a seven-year jail term on December 24, 2018, accompanied by a fine of Rs1.5 billion and US$25 million. The decision for this case is yet to be taken

The IHC restored these appeals in a decision last month, leading to today’s pivotal hearing. Nawaz Sharif’s legal counsel, Amjad Pervaiz, argued before the court, pointing out perceived loopholes in the Avenfield reference.

Nawaz’s lawyer Amjad Pervaiz questioned the ownership of the properties, arguing that there was neither verbal nor documented evidence indicating Nawaz’s ownership. The defense emphasized the lack of evidence proving that Maryam Nawaz and other family members were under Nawaz’s patronage.

Pervez argued that the NAB failed to prove any of the allegations against Nawaz Sharif. “The properties in question were acquired at different times, with some being acquired between 1993 and 1996. The appellant had no connection to these properties, and the prosecution did not clarify their relation to the properties in the reference.”

He said that Wajid Zia, former DG FIA, admitted that there was no evidence to establish Nawaz Sharif’s connection to the properties. The charge sheet stated that the assets were not in accordance with declared assets.

The court based the sentence on assumptions, and the decision was generally written without specific evidence. It was written that children are generally under the guardianship of their father, he said.