Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Saturday made serious allegations against personnel of a security agency, claiming that they were manipulating judicial proceedings. He also claimed the agencies approached the IHC chief justice to ensure Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz remained behind bars for the elections.

"In today's era, the ISI is fully involved in manipulating judicial proceedings," Justice Siddiqui alleged, in a speech delivered before the Rawalpindi District Bar Association. "Their personnel get benches formed at their will."

The remarks made by Justice Siddiqui today are strong and unusual coming from a senior judge. While he alluded to agency interference in judicial matters, he did not provide evidence during his speech to support his claims.

He also claimed that the agency approached the IHC chief justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi and said: "'We do not want to let Nawaz Sharif and his daughter come out [of the prison] until elections, do not include Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on the bench [hearing Sharifs' appeals]'."

Today, without taking names, he alleged: "I know who takes whose message to the Supreme Court."

He asked: "Why was the administrative control of the accountability court taken away from the Islamabad High Court?"

He alleged that the judiciary's freedom has been divested and that it is now in control of "those with guns".

"I was told that 'if you assure us of decisions in our favour, we will end references against you'," Justice Siddiqui claimed.

He also claimed that he was offered to be made chief justice of the high court by September.

Two references against Justice Siddiqui are pending at the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The first reference pertains to a corruption case filed against him by an employee of the Capital Development Authority (CDA). In the second reference, the SJC questions his critical comments regarding the role of the Army during last year's Faizabad sit-in.

The SJC will be holding an inquiry against Justice Siddiqui with regard to the above-mentioned references, which, unlike past inquiries will be in an open court.

Talking about his own accountability and corruption references today, Justice Siddiqui said that only the bar can truly hold him accountable and that his corruption references are highlighted "by a particular group" whenever he gives an important verdict.

He also said that he would resign if the bar found that he had been involved in corruption.

Justice Siddiqui further remarked that Pakistan cannot be compared to Europe or America but to India and Bangladesh. He stated that India is on the path to progress because the political process has never been halted there.

"50 per cent of responsibility of the country's current situation lies with the judiciary while other institutions are responsible for the rest," he remarked.

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