ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday decided to stay away from the video leak controversy involving accountability court judge Arshad Malik who had reportedly told a close aide to Nawaz Sharif that he had been “blackmailed and pressurised” to convict the former prime minister.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League vice president Maryam Nawaz claimed that the government had already got conducted forensic audit of the video tape and after being told that it was authentic, the prime minister had decided not to interfere in the matter.
In another development, judge Arshad Malik met Islamabad High Court’s acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and reportedly briefed him on the alleged video tape.
Communications Minister Murad Saeed and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar confirmed at a joint press conference that the government wanted investigation into the video leak under the Supreme Court or the Islamabad High Court.
Maryam claims ‘forensic audit by government’ confirms authenticity of video tape; judge Arshad Malik meets IHC’s acting chief justice
On Monday, Prime Minister Khan chaired a meeting of his spokesmen and media advisers and decided that the government should not intervene in the video tape controversy because if investigations were carried out by the government, the opposition would never accept it and make it another issue for political gains.
The video tape purportedly showed judge Arshad Malik telling Nasir Butt that he was “blackmailed and coerced” into convicting Mr Sharif despite having no evidence against the former premier.
An insider told Dawn that the prime minister was of the view that video tape scandal must be investigated but on the initiative of the superior judiciary and not by the government. He said the judges and judiciary were working independently and not answerable to the government. “We want the judiciary should order forensic audit of the video tape and whatever decision the judiciary will take in this regard the government will fully facilitate it,” PM Khan was quoted as saying.
He said the government would not allow anyone to attack the country’s prestige and state institutions. “All conspiracy to make institutions controversial will be foiled,” he added.
The prime minister said the PML-N had a history of threatening and attacking the judiciary, but accountability of its leaders would continue.
Interestingly, before the prime minister’s decision to stay away from the controversy, leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had been demanding forensic audit of the video tape.
On Sunday, judge Arshad Malik in a press release denied contents of the video and demanded action against those involved in making what he called “false, fake and concocted” video tape.
The judge had on Dec 4, 2018 convicted ousted prime minister Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference, but acquitted him in Flagship Investments reference.
The PML-N vice president said in a private TV talk show that she had information that the government had already got conducted forensic audit of the video tape and got to know that it was not fake. “Imran Khan sahib has taken another U-turn by deciding that the government will not interfere in it after he got to know that the video tape was ‘genuine’ and not ‘fake’,” she added.
Maryam disclosed that she also had another video tape and three audio tapes of judge Arshad Malik and that she would make public these tapes later.
At the press conference, Shahzad Akbar said the government had after a threadbare discussion decided that either the Supreme Court or the IHC should take action on the video leak. “The government wants its investigation but on the orders of the judiciary,” he added.
He claimed that more cases of corruption would be opened against the Sharif family members in the days to come. “Very soon [we] will expose that how Shairfs were involved in obtaining kickbacks and commissions in mega national projects,” he added.
Mr Akbar claimed that a couple of days ago Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had visited the National Accountability Bureau office in connection with investigation into his cases, where he threatened NAB officials with dire consequences if they did not close down his cases.
Murad Saeed claimed that PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal was involved in kickbacks and commission in development projects.
Judge Arshad Malik held the meeting with Justice Aamer Farooq after attending the oath-taking ceremony of the latter. Justice Farooq took the oath as IHC acting Chief Justice after Chief Justice Athar Minallah proceeded on the summer vacation with effect from July 8.
According to sources, Mr Malik briefed Justice Farooq on the alleged video tape.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2019