'If Nawaz can go to jail, why can't Saqib Nisar?': Abbasi seeks suo motu on denial of bail to Maryam, Nawaz
Reacting to a report about the alleged involvement of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar in denying bail to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz ahead of the 2018 general elections, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi demanded that a suo motu notice be taken of the matter and questioned: "If Mian Nawaz Sharif can go to jail, why can't Mian Saqib Nisar?"
He posed the question during a press conference alongside other PML-N leaders, saying the Supreme Court should take suo motu notice of the matter now that fingers had been pointed at a former top judge in the report.
His comments came after an investigative report, published in The News by journalist Ansar Abbasi, quoted the former top judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, Rana Shamim, as saying in an alleged affidavit that he had witnessed Nasir relaying instructions to a high court judge to not release the father-daughter duo in the corruption references against them.
While Nisar has denied the allegations, dismissing them as "absolutely untrue", PML-leaders have called for individuals involved in the matter to be brought to justice.
"If Rana Shamim is lying, he should be given stringent punishment, but if he is speaking the truth, then justice Saqib Nisar's place is in jail," Abbasi remarked at the press conference.
Sharing the contents of the alleged affidavit, he said Shamim had divulged details under oath about Nisar instructing his registrar to contact an Islamabad High Court judge and ensure that Nawaz and Maryam were not granted bail before the 2018 elections.
"He (Shamim) has not given this statement under any pressure and when he was asked about this on camera, he confirmed that he had given this statement under oath," Abbasi noted.
Saying that it was important to inform the people of Pakistan about the background of the matter, the PML-N leader alleged that the "Supreme Court had acted like a trial court" in the past and disqualified Nawaz over a matter pertaining to his iqama (work permit of the United Arab Emirates). Consequently, "the federal government was toppled" and Nawaz was later sidelined from politics, he added.
Then, he recalled, a reference was filed over Panama Papers leaks against the PML-N supremo and later, the SC appointed a monitoring judge for the matter, which was an unprecedented occurrence in Pakistan's history.
"There was no mention of Maryam or Nawaz in the case, but when the latter was abroad [to tend] to his ailing wife, he was convicted by a NAB court," he said, adding that Nawaz returned to Pakistan thereafter and was taken to jail along with his daughter.
"On July 16, 2018, he filed an appeal [for bail] and on July 17, the appeal was listed. The same day, [former] CJP Saqib Nisar went to Gilgit-Baltistan," he continued, adding that all this had been shared by Shamim under oath.
Now, he said, just three people knew the truth — Shamim, Nisar and the IHC judge who was allegedly asked not to grant bail to Maryam and Nawaz.
But it was also the right of the people of Pakistan to know the truth, he stressed.
"This is not just about maintaining the conviction by the former CJP, it is about meddling in the affairs of elections," Abbasi said, adding: "Don't we have the right to ask when these trends [of intervention] will end? For how long will we play with people's lives and the future of Pakistan for small gains and our false ego?"
Saying that he wished that Nisar was actually not involved in the matter, Abbasi asked: "When a CJP commits such an act, who are we to approach [for justice]?"
He went on to say that numerous other such "unconstitutional interventions" had been pointed out in the country's judicial system.
"A [former] chief justice has been involved in the matter. A sitting high court judge has been named in the matter. Should I consider this a routine occurrence [and] shouldn't this matter be taken to the parliament? Shouldn't parliament question who is responsible for this matter?" he questioned.
The PML-N leader further said, "We will have to trust Shamim's statement as it was given under oath. But our question is which forum will determine what the truth is? Is there anyone to take notice of this matter?"
He added that the report also showed how Prime Minister Imran Imran had come to power, and that it was now the need of the hour to go into the depth of the matter of "the CJP interfering in election affairs".
Abbasi said it was incidents such as these that were the root cause of inflation and the myriad of difficulties being faced by people. "When constitutional institutions exceed their ambits, inflation will increase," he remarked.
PML-N to raise matter in parliament
Replying to a question, PML-N leader Khawaja Asif said that at present, questions were being raised on the country's institutions.
"The constitutional structure of Pakistan has collapsed," he said. "Whatever happened in the July 2018 elections is now being exposed gradually."
He announced that the PML-N would raise the matter in the parliament and consult lawyers regarding it.
In a press talk later in the day, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry took exception to the press conference held by Abbasi and Asif, saying the IHC should also summon the two leaders for holding a presser despite the court taking a suo motu notice of the matter.
He said it was the PML-N's history to scandalise and attack courts, adding that the story carried by The News should have undergone an editorial check.
Accompanying him, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication Shahbaz Gill alleged it was the ninth "fake story" planted by the PML-N.
"I can show the stories along with the names of PML-N's pundits in media houses, most of which later bounced," he said.
Separately, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said that the country's judiciary was being attacked.
"There is no doubt that the PML-N is behind it," he alleged, saying the party had a history of launching such attacks on anyone who took independent decisions.