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'Judge in video scandal sent back, but Nawaz still in jail,' Asif complains in NA

Updated July 16, 2019

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PML-N leader Khawaja Asif addresses the National Assembly on July 16. — DawnNewsTV screengrab
PML-N leader Khawaja Asif addresses the National Assembly on July 16. — DawnNewsTV screengrab

PML-N leader Khawaja Asif on Tuesday accused the government of pursuing a "vendetta" against opposition leaders and called for "even-handed" accountability.

Addressing the parliament, the PML-N leader brought up the recent video leak scandal involving accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik; regretting that, "while the judge was sent back, Nawaz Sharif is still in jail".

"I don't want to comment on the matter as it is in the court and I respect the judiciary and the judicial process. I don't just have respect, I have complete trust that our judicial system will fulfill all requirements of justice," he said, before pointing out that the former premier — who was convicted for corruption in two cases and is currently in jail — remains imprisoned thanks to a verdict passed by the judge in question.

"There is no allegation of corruption against Nawaz Sharif," Asif insisted, adding that Sharif was disqualified due to an undeclared salary.

Asif also condemned the case against PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah, who was arrested by Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) earlier this month. According to ANF officials, a large quantity of drugs was recovered from Sanaullah's car at the time of arrest.

"Mr Speaker, if you read the first information report, it is ridiculous," Asif claimed. "It says that he (Sanaullah) turned around and picked up 20 kilogrammes of heroin; does he look like he can lift 20kgs?" he asked.

"A man who has been an MPA, an MNA; who is a lawyer; who was subjected to the worst kind of torture in 2002-03 [...] has been accused of carrying heroin," Asif said, adding that Sanaullah had told the PML-M not to ask for his production orders.

"You should carry out accountability; we will stand by you. But it should be even-handed. Justice should not be compromised."

"The venom of vendetta can eat people up," Asif told the parliament. "If we talk about something else, they will say that we are asking for NRO. We are not asking for an NRO, we will fight this battle till the end [...] but this battle will damage the Pakistani people, the Constitution and this constitutional model of which we are a part."

'Rana Sanaullah shouldn't play politics'

Responding to comments regarding the case against Sanaullah, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Shehryar Afridi said that the ANF had "complete evidence" to prove charges levelled against the PML-N leader.

The Safron minister said that Sanaullah "was caught red-handed after three weeks of surveillance" by the ANF and added that the anti-drug force had video footage as well as other evidence that will be produced in court.

"Rana Sanaullah should not play politics [over this]. He should face the courts," he said.

Afridi said that the ANF was a professional force with a conviction rate of 98 per cent and vowed that "an example will be made" out of anyone "who takes the law into his hands and violates Constitution".

'No politician responsible' for Reko Diq award

PPP leader and former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf addressed a hefty award of $5.976 billion announced by the Inter­national Centre for Settle­ment of Investment Disp­utes against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case, saying that no politician could be blamed for the dispute.

He accused former chief justice of Pakistan Chaudhry Iftikhar of passing a verdict — that declared the Chagai Hills Exploration Joint Venture Agreement, signed between the Balochistan government and Australian mining company BHP in 1993, in conflict with the laws of the country — to assuage his ego.

Ashraf said that the terms of reference of the commission, that is to be formed on the prime minister's directions, should be finalised and approved by the parliament. He also called for a joint sitting of the parliament to discuss the case.