Sharif wants judges to look into shortcomings of judiciary

January 24, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz arrive at the National Accountability Bureau court for the hearing on Tuesday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz arrive at the National Accountability Bureau court for the hearing on Tuesday.—White Star

ISLAMABAD: In what appears to be his continued attack on the judiciary, ousted prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Nawaz Sharif has said there is only disappointment and distress for the poor in the country’s judicial system, which is producing no results.

“There is a dire need to overhaul the judicial system, it is producing no results; there is nothing for the poor in this system except disappointment and distress,” he told reporters at the Punjab House after his appearance in the accountability court on Tuesday. “The pending cases are being pursued by the third generation of the litigants who sought relief from the courts decades ago.”

Calling upon the judiciary to pay attention to the backlog of millions of cases, he said that the aim of his party’s ‘justice movement’ was to develop a judicial system in the country that could provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the common man.

He said he had no objection if judges took notice of poor performance of hospitals and other departments. But, he added, they should also look into the shortcomings of their own institution.

Questioning the legal standing of references filed against him, Mr Sharif said that when it had been realised that the interim reference was not sufficient for his conviction, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was asked to file a supplementary reference in order to what he called linger on the trial proceedings.

He also objected the appointment of a supervisory judge to monitor the proceedings of the accountability court.

Says he has no objection if they take notice of poor performance of hospitals and other departments

The ousted prime minister claimed that a majority of people in the country had rejected the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Panama Papers case against him.

NAB on Monday filed a supplementary reference against Mr Sharif, his sons Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar in connection with their London properties.

The accountability court took up the reference on Tuesday.

As per the supplementary reference, “investigation to the extent of the criminal roles of Musa Ghani, Saeed Ahmed, Javaid Kayani and Tariq Shafi” in aiding and abetting Mr Sharif is under progress as for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) to foreign countries is still awaited.

Mr Ahmed is the president and CEO of the National Bank of Pakistan, Mr Shafi is a cousin of Mr Sharif and Kayani is a family friend of the Sharifs. The reference read that the bureau would file a second supplementary reference as and when required by making the MLA a part of that reference.

When the supplementary reference was filed, the NAB prosecution team requested the court to summons new witnesses on the next hearing.

Khawaja Haris Ahmed, counsel of Mr Sharif, objected to the NAB prosecution team’s request and said the court could not summon witnesses without giving the defence reasonable time to study the supplementary reference whether it is sustainable or not.

NAB maintained that the accused persons, who have been found to have acquired properties, refused to answer questions or provide information to NAB. It claimed that they had given false information and fabricated evidence during investigation before the JIT (joint investigation team) and during proceedings in the Supreme Court.

NAB continued that the contradictory stances taken by the accused persons expose them to failure in order to prove the money trail in respect of acquisition and purchase of the properties.

The bureau alleged that the accused persons through interviews and speeches made on electronic media and in the National Assembly took different stances with regard to the acquisition of the properties.

It may be mentioned here that the Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict empowered NAB to file “supplementary reference(s) if and when any other asset, which is not prima facie reasonably accounted for, is discovered”.

However, the supplementary reference included the media reports, excerpts of interviews of the Sharif family’s members related to the ownership of the London properties and statements of the forensic expert as well as the solicitor.

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Danyal Aziz while commenting on the supplementary reference said that contrary to the apex court’s directives the supplementary reference did not include any fresh evidence as the above mentioned detail was part of the final report of the JIT.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2018