Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, while addressing a press conference in Lahore on Monday, complained that his fundamental rights were being violated "as no lawyer will take up a case where he is not even allowed time to prepare and is asked to appear even on the weekends."
Sharif's presser was in response to an accountability court asking him to find a new lawyer after counself Khawaja Haris recused himself from the references being heard against Sharif.
Haris's decision had come after the Supreme Court asked the accountability court to speed up its proceedings and hear the case, even if it meant holding court on weekends.
"Does the chief justice not know that justice rushed is justice crushed?" Sharif complained in his press conference today.
Holding the prosecution responsible for past delays in the reference proceedings — they were initially supposed to last six months, but have been extended multiple times — Sharif said that it was a matter of record that his lawyers, including Haris, had never caused any of those delays.
He stated that when Haris told the apex court that it was not possible for a lawyer to continue appearing for proceedings everyday — especially if the hearings lasted late into the day and were held even on holidays — the chief justice said that the lawyer could be changed if it was not possible for the current one to continue representing Sharif.
Nawaz said that the apex court also allowed the accountability court to set its own timings in order to decide on the references, or a single reference, within one month.
Sharif complained that even if he is able to find a new lawyer, it would not be possible for him to resume his defense on Wednesday as there were thousands of pages attached with the case in addition to the statements of over 60 witnesses.
He claimed that he did not know of any other case where a lawyer was forced to represent his clients until late in the night, and then also made to appear on weekends.
Nawaz said the rights accorded to him under Articles 10A and 25 of the Constitution were being violated. He said that he is being deprived of his right of defence and even his right to be represented by a lawyer.
He again objected to the appointment of a monitoring judge to oversee the case, asking whether anyone in the country had ever faced over 100 hearings.
"This is a strange case of its own kind," he said.
"This last episode of the game that began with the Panama [Papers] is an extremely unfortunate example of oppression and injustice," he said, repeating his previous claims of injustices meted out to him in the case.
He also claimed that the court has backtracked on an earlier order to give a decision in all three references at the same time.
"I do not know whether my right to defence is more important or that the decision be given before the election. Are the standards of law and justice more important or a decision before the elections? Are the fundamental rights of a Pakistani citizen important or a decision before the elections?" he asked.
"If it is necessary or compulsory to arrive at a decision regarding me before July 25, then make the decision. If it is this way, then this is tantamount to tearing apart law, justice, fundamental rights and fundamental human rights," he said.