ISLAMABAD: Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif denied on Friday any deal with the establishment for his return and also dismissed the possibility of a technocrats’ government in the country.
In a brief chat with journalists inside the courtroom on the occation of hearing of corruption references against him, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president said that after Nov 3, 2007 emergency he stood for the cause of independence of the judiciary. “I am not the supporter of a judiciary which welcomes dictators, endorses doctrine of necessity and garlands them.” Mr Sharif spoke to the media twice during the hearing breaks.
He said he would not go for any deal or accept a new National Reconciliation Ordinance to escape trial proceedings, adding that those who had sought the NRO in 2007 might seek another one in 2017, but the PML-N was not interested in any such deal.
The NRO was promulgated after a deal between then military ruler Gen Musharraf and the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Mr Sharif said he did not see formation of any technocrats’ government as he had been listening to such rumours for 70 years.
Accompanied by Maryam and Safdar, ousted PM appears in court
Clad in a light brown shalwar suit with a dark brown waistcoat, the former prime minister entered the courtroom at 8.51am along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz. His son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar had arrived a couple of minutes before. This was the first time that three members of the Sharif family jointly appeared before the accountability court since the trial started in September.
Mr Sharif and his daughter sat in the front row where Senator Pervaiz Rashid had already occupied a seat. Captain Safdar could find a seat in the last row where he sat along with some ministers. Although Senator Rashid offered Mr Safdar his seat, the latter did not accept it.
Since Accountability Court Judge Mohammad Bashir was in his chamber, some media persons, who were allowed to witness the proceedings, found an opportunity to speak to the former premier.
The first question a reporter asked was about the Nov 3, 2007 emergency when then president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf held the Constitution in abeyance and detained over 60 judges of the superior judiciary.
Gen Musharraf escaped the high treason trial for imposing the emergency as he flew abroad following a Supreme Court verdict and subsequent removal of his name from the exit control list.
“This is the difference how an elected leader is treated here,” was Mr Sharif’s response.
“I am unable to understand why we are facing the trial; we did not commit any corruption, never took kickbacks. Perhaps my sin was that I made Pakistan a nuclear power, ended electricity loadshedding, restored peace in the country, especially in Karachi, enhanced foreign exchange reserves and put the economy on a fast track,” he added.
Commenting on the Nov 3, 2007 incident for which the legal fraternity observes a black day every year, Mr Sharif said the country had over the past 70 years witnessed many black days, but “my question is did we learn anything? I have been disqualified for holding an Iqama and I don’t know specific allegations against me in the references”.
He said it never happened in hundreds of cases pending before different accountability courts where a “super judge” was monitoring the proceedings of a trial court. “Why is this happening in my case only? In my case, who is committing contempt of court,” he asked and said that it was also contempt of court when the judiciary did not fulfil the requirements of fair trial.
When his attention was drawn to the reservations expressed by some serving judges of high courts over the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council, Mr Sharif said the procedure should be fair, transparent and open.
“If we have to move forward, we must not keep such thing secret and such proceedings should be held openly. Pakistan has already paid much cost of keeping things secret and time has come when there should be nothing secret and everything should be in the knowledge of people,” he suggested.
Responding to a question about PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s diatribe against the ruling party, the former PM said it appeared that “Zardari sahib is trying to please certain quarters as he is deliberately doing this at a critical juncture when there is a dire need of unity among all political parties”.
He also dismissed reports about differences within the Sharif family, saying that “it’s a wishful thinking of someone, but this desire will never be fulfilled”.
At the outset of the proceedings, Judge Mohammad Bashir said he had read in a newspaper that the Islamabad High Court had ordered clubbing of three corruption references together.
At this, National Accountability Bureau deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi said the IHC had not passed such an order, but remanded the matter to the accountability court again.
The judge then asked his staff to get a copy of the IHC order and went to the chamber. He resumed the hearing after receiving the IHC short order issued on Nawaz Sharif’s petitions seeking a joint trial of all the three references.
The judge then read out the order sheet, according to which the accountability court was asked to examine the matter in the light of Section 17-D.
The section reads: “A person accused of more offences than one of the same kind…may be charged with and tried at one trial for any number of such offences.”
Khawaja Haris, the counsel for Mr Sharif, argued that in case the references were clubbed together, the court would need to indict Mr Sharif, Maryam and Safdar again.
The judge adjourned the proceedings until Nov 7, when the counsel and the prosecutor would argue on the clubbing of references, joint trial and re-indictment.
Pervaiz Rashid, Daniyal Aziz, Tariq Fatemi, Raja Zafarul Haq, Amir Muqam, Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Tallal Chaudhry and Marriyum Aurangzeb remained inside the courtroom during the hearing. Khawaja Saad Rafique stayed outside the court premises.
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2017