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LAHORE: As a three-judge Supreme Court bench is set to take up a National Accountability Bureau’s petition to consider whether or not to open the Hudabiya Paper Mills reference on Monday, Prime Minister Shahid Khan Abbasi arrived in the provincial metropolis to hold talks with Nawaz Sharif.
Abbasi will be meeting the deposed prime minister at Jati Umra today (Monday). The meeting is dubbed ‘important’ in view of the Supreme Court’s decision to take up NAB’s appeal against the Lahore High Court’s 2014 order, quashing the Rs1.2 billion Hudabiya Paper Mills corruption reference against the Sharif family.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had already reacted to the decision, terming it ‘unjustified’, saying there was no justification in reopening a case that had been put to rest on the LHC’s order.
The bench is headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel as other members,
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Shamim Akhtar — mother of Nawaz, Shehbaz and the late Abbas Sharif — Maryam Safdar, Hussain Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, Hudabiya Paper Mills, the federal government as well as the judge of the accountability court No IV, Rawalpindi, are respondents in the appeal.
The prime minister was in Lahore to attend the dinner hosted by National Assembly Speaker Ayyaz Sadiq at his house. The prime minister was scheduled to meet Sharif soon after his arrival but the meeting was postponed for Monday on account of his late arrival ostensibly due to smog, blanketing upper parts of Punjab.
Moreover, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) has been convened on Monday in a bid to resolve the lingering controversy over the provisional results of the population census 2017. It is likely that the two leaders would also discuss the CCI meeting.
Abbasi held formal talks with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who received him at the airport along with other senior officials.
According to the CM Office, matters of mutual interests and the situation in the country came under discussion during the meeting.
However, sources told The Express Tribune, “Delimitation of constituencies and political wheeling and dealing are discussed during the brief interaction.”
The sources said: “The prime minister will leave for Islamabad to attend the Council of Common Interests meeting at around 4pm,” adding, “The Punjab chief minister is also scheduled to leave for the federal capital to attend the meeting on Monday.”
Meanwhile, Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz warned of uprising “if NA-120 style” elections take place in the country.
“Even if election is rigged like it was in NA-120, artificial or ‘engineered results’ won’t last a month,” the deposed prime minister’s daughter tweeted on Sunday, “What’d ensue would be genuine uprising.”
In another tweet, she said: “If someone tries to mess with people’s power, public wrath will be uncontrollable & unimaginable. This is 2017, not [the] 80s & [the] 90s.”
Also, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique took to tweeter to appeal the PML-N supporters to “gear up for another round of struggle” to foil all conspiracies against Nawaz Sharif.
Earlier, the minister, talking to the media late on Sunday, condemned re-opening of the Hudabiya Paper Mills case.
He said the PML-N had nothing to with the making or breaking of the alliance between the Pak Sarzameen Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. “The PML-N does not believe in such alliances.”