ISLAMABAD: Mohammad Akram Sheikh, a senior Supreme Court lawyer who had prosecuted former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf on treason charges and later pleaded a case seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Imran Khan, claimed on Monday that his bank accounts had been frozen and he was unable to run his law office.
Besides this, he said, he had also received a notice from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for Rs11.2 million as advance tax for the tax year 2018.
“How can I pay tax, even if I had to, when the bank accounts have been frozen and the deadline for making payments is fast approaching?” asked Mr Sheikh while talking to reporters at the Supreme Court building. “How can I pay salaries of my staff or clear utility bills if the bank accounts remain seized?” he wondered.
“I always receive professional fees as a lawyer through banking channels and not through hundi and have never accepted cash amounts,” Mr Sheikh said, adding that he had been paying taxes regularly for the past 43 years without fail and had received income tax notice only for the second time in his life, first being in 1994.
He said that ever since he had taken the treason case and filed a petition in the Supreme Court which led to the disqualification of PTI’s former secretary general Jahangir Khan Tareen, his corporate and individual clients were being chased and his practice as a lawyer had nosedived. Even the payment of $500,000 as a fee had been withheld for pleading the case of Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz in the Memogate scandal despite earlier assurances in the shape of a promissory note, he regretted.
“My office in Islamabad has been picketed and the guards and chowkidars [watchmen] of adjacent houses have been replaced with new ones,” Akram Sheikh said, adding that a number of diplomatic friends had suggested to him on a number of occasions that he would not be having a smooth sail in Pakistan after the change of government and, therefore, he should consider joining a think tank or involving himself in some kind of research or giving lectures in different institutions abroad.
“I will always prefer to live as a first class citizen in my country and will fight back but never give in,” he said, wondering why he was facing such kind of treatment when he had never made any irresponsible statements against Prime Minister Imran Khan, Finance Minister Asad Umar or institutions responsible for national security. “Being a professional lawyer it is my job as well as my right to fight cases in the court.”
The lawyer said he had quit his morning walk for the last one year as he had been receiving threats asking him to leave the country because his life was under serious threat for he already had his ‘say’ through the cases he had done recently. Mr Sheikh warned of approaching the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights by writing letters in case he was pushed to the wall.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2018