Court Orders Hanif Abbasi To Temporarily Stop Working As SAPM

Court Orders Hanif Abbasi To Temporarily Stop Working As SAPM
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has ordered Pakistan Muslim League - N (PML-N)'s Hanif Abbasi to temporarily stop working as the special assistant to the prime minister, till the proceedings of a case filed by Awami Muslim League's (AML) Sheikh Rasheed seeking Abbasi's disqualification, resume on May 27.

The order came during a hearing of a petition filed by former interior minister Sheikh Rasheed, who was contesting Abbasi's appointment as SAPM on the grounds of his conviction in an ephedrine case in 2018.

During the last hearing on May 9th, the judge had asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to reconsider the nomination of Abbasi, who had been appointed SAPM with the status of federal minister on April 27.

The judge asked Sharif to reevaluate his decision, in case Abbasi's conviction had not yet been dismissed.

During today's hearing, Justice Minallah observed that a convicted person could not hold public office, which led to Abbasi's legal counsel, Ahsan Bhoon to protest that the office of SAPM was 'not like other public offices.'

The justice said that the job of the SAPM was to advise the prime minister, a duty that can be fulfilled without official notice.

He added that he hoped Abbasi would not use public office till the next hearing.

Abbasi had been convicted in 2012 for selling 500 kg of ephedrine to narcotics smugglers, and exceeding the quota of ephedrine production as set down by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).

Initially awarded a life sentence and a fine of Rs 1 million, his life sentence was later dropped in 2019.

Sheikh Rasheed had argued in his petition that while the sentence had been suspended, the conviction still stood for all intents and purposes, and could not be ignored.

The next hearing has been scheduled for May 27.