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Anti-judiciary rant costs Nehal Senate seat

Updated June 01, 2017

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NEHAL Hashmi
NEHAL Hashmi

ISLAMABAD: A seemingly unnecessary effort to prove his loyalty to the Sharif family has cost PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi his seat in the parliament as he has been asked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately quit the Senate over his controversial speech in which he appears to threaten the members of the joint investigation team (JIT) and judiciary probing the Panama Papers case.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took a suo motu notice of Mr Hashmi’s speech and summoned him to appear before the special bench hearing the Panama Papers case today (Thursday).

The chief justice had taken the notice “on the note of the registrar containing the details of the speech threatening the institutions of dire consequences,” says an official announcement of the Supreme Court.

“Taking notice of the issue, the Honourble Chief Justice of Pakistan has directed the office to fix the matter before Special Bench (Panama Cases Implementation Bench) on Thursday at 1pm. Notices have also been issued to the attorney general for Pakistan and Senator Nehal Hashmi to appear in person,” says the announcement.

SC fixes matter before special bench today

Sources told Dawn that soon after receiving directives from the prime minister through his special assistant Dr Asif Kirmani, Mr Hashmi submitted his resignation to the Senate secretariat. “Owing to certain circumstance, I cannot continue discharging responsibilities of my office as a member of the Senate,” Mr Hashmi stated in his handwritten resignation, a copy of which is available with Dawn. The fast-paced drama, which ended with Mr Hashmi’s resignation, started earlier in the day when a video clip showing Mr Hashmi hurling threats at those “investigating” the Sharif family members went viral on social media, prompting immediate and adverse reaction, not only from the opposition parties but also from his own party.

In his speech, reportedly delivered at a function in Karachi a few days ago, Mr Hashmi warned “those investigating” the prime minister and his sons in the Panama Papers case that they would be “taken to task” for their act.

Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had appeared before a Supreme Court-appointed JIT on Tuesday and, according to media reports, he was “grilled” by the JIT members for almost five hours.

Mr Hashmi in a threatening tone said that “those” who were grilling the sons of Mr Sharif “will not be spared.”

“We will arrange the day of judgement for you,” he said, adding that “You are making the life of the prime minister difficult, the Pakistani nation will make it difficult for you to live,” he said without naming anyone.

“Those who are holding them (the PM and his family) accountable or those who have made them accountable, listen carefully, we will not spare you. Today you are in service. Tomorrow you will have retired. We will make the life of your children and family difficult in Pakistan,” he threatened.

In his speech, he had also attacked PTI chairman Imran Khan. Without naming Mr Khan, the PML-N leader said the Banigala house had been constructed with the Jews’ money whereas the Model Town house of Mr Sharif had been built with the hard-earned money.

Within an hour of the telecast of the video clip by the TV channels, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb while talking to state-run PTV disowned Mr Hashmi’s statement, stating that it was his “personal opinion” and had nothing to do with the PML-N, the Sharif family or the government.

Terming the statement of Mr Hashmi “regrettable and inappropriate”, the minister said the party did not support what Mr Hashmi had stated. She said the prime minister believed in accountability and the PML-N respected all the constitutional and legal institutions of the country.

Later, the Prime Minister Office issued a brief handout stating that Mr Hashmi had been summoned by Mr Sharif to the PM House for an explanation. It said Dr Asif Kirmani had conveyed to Mr Hashmi that the prime minister was extremely angry over his remarks. Mr Hashmi was issued a “show-cause notice” and was informed about the party leadership’s decision of suspending his basic party membership.

According to Dr Kirmani, Mr Hashmi had been directed by the prime minister to resign from the Senate.

The sources said the prime minister was so angry that he even refused to meet Mr Hashmi and made communication through Dr Kirmani.

Despite belonging to Karachi, Nehal Hashmi had been given the party ticket to contest the Senate election from Punjab.

Sources told Dawn that before his summoning to the PM House, Mr Hashmi also had had a meeting with Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and gave explanation about his remarks.

Denouncing Mr Hashmi’s statement, PTI Chairman Imran Khan through his official Twitter account said: “Nehal Hashmi’s shameful threats to the superior judiciary and JIT members are part of PML-N’s political culture. They either buy people or try to scare them.”

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry while talking to Dawn termed Mr Hashmi’s remarks an attempt to “jeopardise the process of accountability”.

The opposition members of the National Assembly, who held a parallel session outside the Parliament House, also passed a symbolic resolution condemning Mr Hashmi’s remarks against the judiciary and the JIT. The resolution had been moved by PPP’s Nafeesa Shah.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2017