PTI leaders assail Sharifs after report claims Rana Shamim affidavit was notarised at PML-N office in London
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Sunday assailed the Sharif family and branded them the "Sicilian mafia" after a report published in The Express Tribune stated that former Gilgit-Baltistan chief justice Rana Shamim's affidavit against former top judge Mian Saqib Nisar was notarised at the office of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif.
Shamim's affidavit, whose existence came to light last month in a separate investigative report carried by The News, accuses Nisar of colluding to deny bails to top PML-N leadership before general elections 2018.
The Express Tribune report, published today, cited unspecified "evidence" and quoted Charles D. Guthrie — the London-based solicitor who had notarised Shamim's affidavit — as saying that the document was notarised at an office in Stanhope Place in Marble Arch, London, adding that the office belonged to Flagship Developments Limited, of which Sharif's son Hasan Nawaz is a director and where top PML-N leaders often hold their meetings.
"In the evidence, Guthrie has confirmed three times that Shamim was present at Marble Arch," the story claims, adding that the notary also implied that Shamim was a close friend of Nawaz's.
Furthermore, the solicitor indicated that Sharif was also present when Shamim signed the affidavit and took the oath. Citing the "evidence", the report said that when asked if "they were like quite cozy when they were in there (Sharif's office)," Guthrie replied: “Very… yeah.”
Government officials and members of the ruling PTI, who had long argued that Shamim was operating on PML-N leadership's orders, saw The Express Tribune's report as a validation of their stance.
Taking to Twitter, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said: "The latest developments have once again exposed the Sharif family to be the Sicilian mafia and how, like a mafia, they possess the power to blackmail the courts and institutions," he said.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that the Sharifs "just cannot move beyond trying to thwart justice through buying influence or physically attacking" the Supreme Court.
"From assault on SC to calls to Justice Qayyum to this latest affidavit saga, it's a repeated story of corruption on all fronts!" she said.
The affidavit and the contempt case
In the affidavit highlighted in The News story, Shamim allegedly stated that Nisar during his visit to GB made a call to an IHC judge and asked him to ensure that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are not released on bail before July 25, 2018 general elections. The affidavit was published as part of an investigative report by The News on Nov 15.
Nisar had rubbished the allegations and said that the the claims were "absolutely untrue". The Islamabad High Court had subsequently taken notice of the report and later issued show-cause notices to senior journalist Ansar Abbasi, resident editor Amer Ghouri, publisher and editor-in-chief of Jang Group Mir Shakeelur Rehman and Shamim under the Contempt of Court Ordinance.
In a court hearing on Dec 7, Shamim had confirmed the contents of the document but said that he had neither circulated nor shared the affidavit with anyone. The contentious affidavit was finally submitted in court — more than a month after it first came to light.