ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has summoned three senior leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, to appear before it next week to record their statements in the judge video scandal.
Sources said that besides Mr Abbasi, the notices had been issued by the FIA’s Counter Terrorism Wing to PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal and the party’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Khawaja Asif for recording of their statements on March 9 and 10.
Mr Abbasi is required to visit the FIA offices in Islamabad on March 9 and the other two PML-N leaders have been issued notices for appearances on March 10.
The three leaders were present at the press conference of PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz on July 6 last year at the party’s Model Town secretariat in which a ‘secretly recorded’ video was played. In the video, accountability judge Arshad Malik was allegedly seen saying that he was pressurised and blackmailed to convict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference.
Ms Nawaz had claimed that the video had been recorded by a “PML-N sympathiser”.
Mr Abbasi and Mr Iqbal are presently in Karachi on a two-day visit in connection with the party’s reorganisation matters.
PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid, the party’s deputy secretary general Attaullah Tarar and another party leader, Azma Bokhari, had already appeared before a three-member FIA team, headed by Counter Terrorism Wing chief Babar Bakht Qureshi, holding investigations into the scam on the judge’s complaint that the video had been tampered.
After his appearance before the FIA team in Lahore in December last year, Senator Rashid had said that he had asked the investigators to get a forensic audit of the video conducted. He said if this video turned out to be fake, then a case should be registered against the PML-N.
“This is an open-and-shut case and does not need investigation to find out who made this video,” he had said, adding that the PML-N leaders had held the press conference about this video to tell the people about the innocence of the party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif. Besides, he added, the party also believed in proving this evidence in the court of law.
Similarly, after appearing before the FIA investigators, Mr Tarar had told reporters that he had already submitted a reply a few months ago and the FIA had only quizzed him about his presence in Maryam Nawaz’s presser. He had asked as to why the judge was not being investigated about his purported video and why the government was reluctant to conduct a forensic audit of the videotapes.
Mr Tarar had said that the FIA had already submitted its report to the court but now after Wajid Zia had taken over the charge as the FIA head, he had started summoning PML-N leaders in this matter.
Mr Zia was a star witness who had gathered evidence against Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers case that finally led to Mr Sharif’s ouster from the office of the prime minister.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2020