On Thursday, Islamabad High Court acquitted PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz and her husband Captain (retd) Safdar in the ‘Avenfield reference’. The two-member bench, comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, pronounced the verdict after hearing arguments from both sides. Additionally, the court overturned the sentences that the accountability court had given to Maryam and Safdar. During the hearing, Justice Kiyani remarked that NAB presented two documents retrieved from London as evidence but on these documents, no degree could be issued. The judge wondered then how could it become a criminal case. NAB prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar argued that the Sharif family did not present any documents in their defence. Justice Farooq chided the lawyer saying why the Sharifs should produce any documents as the onus was on the NAB to prove them wrong. “Where was the connection of Nawaz Sharif shown in the letter? If Nawaz’s connection was not established, then how a NAB case against Maryam could have been lodged,” Justice Farooq remarked. The Case On July 6, a few weeks before the elections in 2018, the accountability judge of Islamabad, who was working under the supervision of an apex court judge, convicted the Sharif family in the Avenfield properties reference. PML-N Quaid and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif were handed 10 years of jail time for owning assets beyond known income and one year for not cooperating with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Meanwhile, Maryam was given seven years for abetment after she was found “instrumental in concealment of the properties of her father” and one year for non-cooperation with the bureau. Captain Safdar was given one year of jail time — for not cooperating with NAB and aiding and abetting Nawaz and Maryam. The Sharif family had filed appeals against its conviction before the IHC in the second week of August 2018. The court had on Sept 18 the same year suspended their sentences and released them on bail. Maryam submitted an appeal to the IHC in October of last year, along with “very important, straightforward, and unambiguous facts,” with the IHC seeking annulment of that verdict. In her application, Maryam stated that the entire proceedings that resulted in her conviction were a “classic example of outright violations of law and political engineering hitherto unheard of in the history of Pakistan”.