Political stalwart and former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Javed Hashmi questioned accountability for judges and the military at an unexpected press conference in Multan on Wednesday.
Hashmi, who has also been a member of the PML-N, believes the Panama Papers probe appears to be a ploy which seeks to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from power, rather than a way to hold him accountable.
"I believe that Nawaz Sharif should be held accountable. I am the first person to say that accountability should exist. But why just Nawaz Sharif?" Hashmi asked.
Claiming a plot was afoot to take down Nawaz Sharif's government, Hashmi alleged PTI Chairman Imran Khan had said that after former CJP Tasadduq Hussain Jilani's tenure would end, the incoming CJP would "break the government and Parliament".
"I told Imran this would be martial law, but he claimed that it wouldn't be martial law because the Supreme Court judges would be doing it," Hashmi alleged.
"Rigging was the issue earlier, but now it is Panamagate since Imran had to create some form of ruckus. He wanted to topple the government in three months. I told him you cannot do this," Hashmi claimed, adding that "someone else" had saved Nawaz Sharif's government from toppling.
"Has any judge been punished? Why are judges not caught for their wrongdoings?" he asked. "Is this justice?"
'Lack of accountability for army'
Although politicians are constantly held accountable, Hashmi noted, the same does not apply to the military.
Calling out the army's "lack of accountability", he questioned, "Where is Raheel Sharif? The entire country is affected when he moves his finger." he said.
"We can't speak about Pervez Musharraf. Can anyone punish him?" he questioned, referring to a pending treason case against the former military ruler.
"The situation is such that if the generals say that this rock is not a rock but a god, the judges and politicians will fall in sajda towards the rock," he claimed.
"Whenever the time for sacrifice comes, politicians make sacrifices. Politicians, whether it was Bhutto or anyone else, have made sacrifices. Can anyone take the name of the SC judge who was named in the Panama Papers?"
Hashmi raises questions about JIT probe
"The joint investigation team (JIT) is being fed lines and actions," he alleged.
"If I say that I know that Nawaz Sharif has not looted money, I would be lying. It is Nawaz Sharif's responsibility to satisfy the court that he has not looted any money," Hashmi said.
"When you have said, 'This is a Sicilian mafia,' what else remains? You have decided the verdict yourself," he said, addressing the judges hearing the Panamagate case. "You are a judge. Judges should act with restraint," Hashmi said.
"I am saying that the bench, these judges should not hear this case [Panamagate]. They do not have the right," he asserted.
"I have been through a JIT myself. When I did not even have a house, they said that my house is like the Taj Mahal. Justice Azmat Sheikh and all of them know how these things happen," he said.
"A Supreme Judicial Council exists but can anything happen against the judges?... Has anyone been punished? What is its [SJC's] standing? Why does it not catch the judges?" he questioned.
"The Supreme Court has made many mistakes in this country's history. When the Constitution was broken, the judges did nothing," he said.
Articles 62 and 63, the Sadiq and Amin clauses, were introduced to the Constitution by former military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq, Hashmi said, "to push opponents out".
"I think nobody can be Sadiq and Amin other than the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him)... No Supreme Court judge is Sadiq and Amin, no general is Sadiq and Amin, and no politician is Sadiq and Amin."
"They have included clauses like these which you cannot throw out, and you claim that the Constitution is protected," he said.
"This could be the last press conference of my career," Hashmi said at the beginning of the conference.
'JIT an attempt to disrupt progress on CPEC'
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while addressing an Eid lunch at t the JUI-F Secretariat in Peshawar on Wednesday, was also of the opinion that the JIT probe into the Sharif family's wealth was "an attempt to destabilise the country".
"Today, while maintaining all due respect for the court, I would like to ask if this investigation was held to fight corruption and get rid of Nawaz Sharif or to destabilise the country and disrupt progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor?"
"People are forgetting that this case has unfolded on a petition that the court had earlier discarded and judges had complained about, saying that such frivolous petitions should not be brought to court... And today, this investigation has become all-important."
"These questions will always remain, the agenda behind the investigation should be explored," Rehman said.
"Why is it that people are suddenly interested in Nawaz Sharif's wealth now? Was he not wealthy before?"
"When his government was overturned by Musharraf, was his wealth not apparent in the corruption cases against him at the time?" he asked.
"If we ask these questions, people portray us as people who endorse corruption," he observed.
"There was a deep strain in the relationship between the PPP and PTI, but now that this has become a matter of sabotaging the country and CPEC, are the two parties not seen openly seen reconciling?" he questioned, referring to consultations between opposition leaders to devise a strategy demanding the forceful resignation of the PM following the release of the JIT.
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"If this is an foreign agenda it is our job to educate the people about it, even if we may not be able to stop the agenda and stand in its way, just like it was in the past. And if we are wrong, they should explain the real situation to us. We are people that understand basic logic."
"The courts only look at things in the light of law, as they should, but it is up to us to look at things in the light of any international agenda or political agenda that may be in play."