Ex-Pakistani PMs, newspaper editor face treason charges

Two former Pakistani leaders and a Karachi newspaper editor appeared in court Monday to face arrest warrants for charges of treason, and will return to face the judges again later this month.

Newspaper editor Cyril Almeida arrives at a Lahore, Pakistan, court on Monday. He and two former Pakistani prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Abbasi, face charges of treason. Photo by Rahat Dar/EPA-EFE
Newspaper editor Cyril Almeida arrives at a Lahore, Pakistan, court on Monday. He and two former Pakistani prime ministers, Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Abbasi, face charges of treason. Photo by Rahat Dar/EPA-EFE

Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Abbasi and Cyril Almeida, associate editor of the Dawn newspaper, appeared and were ordered to return Oct. 22 to face the charges. Monday’s hearing involved a formal petition seeking trials of the three men.
Sharif, who was dismissed as prime minister last year on corruption charges, left prison in September after an appeal of his conviction by an anti-corruption court. He was accused of treason for implying that Pakistani military and intelligence officers allowed terrorists to kill over 160 people in coordinated attacks in Mumbai a decade ago.

The case against Abbasi says he improperly shared details and leaked classified information to Sharif from a confidential security meeting. The leaks came after Sharif made comments on Pakistani involvement in the attacks in an interview with Almeida. The editor was arrested, as prosecutors said the interview damaged Pakistan’s image and sovereignty.

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Abbasi replaced Sharif as Pakistan’s prime minister but was removed from office this year by a court that declared he was dishonest in contesting an election.

Monday, the court ordered government prosecutors to answer whether it’s prepared to proceed with the charges. Under Pakistani law, court indictments cannot be issued until the government files official charges, which has not yet occurred.

The three-judge panel ultimately adjourned the proceedings Monday, saying the arrest warrants were issued only to ensure that Sharif would show up. Sharif missed a hearing in September due to the death of his wife.

ByEd Adamczyk