• Fawad calls family Sicilian mafia
• Mazari says ex-rulers cannot move beyond trying to thwart justice
• Govt having sleepless nights over reports of Nawaz’s return: PML-N

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Sunday lashed out at the Sharif family for being involved in preparing former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Shamim’s affidavit against ex-chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and thwarting justice by “buying influence or physically attacking” the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), while reacting to the statements of the PTI leaders, claimed that reports about the return of self-exiled party supremo Nawaz Sharif from London were giving sleepless nights to the government.

In their statements, the PTI leaders called the Sharif family “Sicilian mafia”, saying that media had revealed that Rana Shamim’s affidavit was notarised in the office of Nawaz Sharif.

In a tweet, Information Minister 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.”

In the affidavit which came into the limelight last month, Rana Shamim accused the former Supreme Court chief justice of colluding with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge in denying bail to the PML-N leadership before the 2018 general elections.

A media report 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, that belonged to the Flagship Developments Limited, of which Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hasan Nawaz, was a director and where the senior PML-N leaders often held their meetings.

“In the evidence, Guthrie has confirmed three times that Shamim was present at Marble Arch,” the story claims, adding that the notary implied that Rana Shamim was a close friend of Nawaz’s.

The solicitor also indicated that Nawaz Sharif was present when Rana Shamim signed the affidavit and took oath.

Citing the “evidence”, the report said when asked if “they were like quite cozy when they were in (Sharif’s office),” Guthrie replied: “Very… yeah.”

The ruling PTI leaders, who have been claiming that Rana Shamim was operating on the orders of the PML-N leadership, termed media reports as a validation of their stance.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said 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 added.

In the affidavit highlighted in media last month, Rana Shamim allegedly stated that Saqib Nisar during his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan had made a call to an IHC judge and asked him to ensure that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were not released on bail before July 25, 2018 general elections.

Saqib Nisar, meanwhile, rejected the allegations, terming them [allegations] “absolutely untrue”.

On Dec 7, Rana Shamim had confirmed the contents of the document in the IHC but said he had neither circulated nor shared the affidavit with anyone.

The affidavit was finally submitted in court — more than a month after it first came to light.

PML-N’s reaction

“The fear of Nawaz Sharif’s return is giving sleepless nights to the government as the ‘bell’ of the government has rung even before the arrival of the former prime minister,” PML-N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah said in response to Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s press conference in Karachi.

Earlier in the day, the interior minister had said that he was ready to issue travel documents to Mr Sharif within 24 hours if he decided to return.

The minister also offered to pay for PML-N supremo’s air travel.

Nawaz Sharif, who was serving a seven-year jail term in a corruption case, left the country over two years ago (November 2019) to avail treatment in London on a special four-week court permission.

The other day PML-N leader and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq said he was going to London to bring Mr Sharif back.

Rana Sanaullah said those who brought in a tsunami of ‘incompetence’, ‘ineptness’ and ‘corruption’ were now crying at the news of Nawaz Sharif’s return.

He said Sheikh Rashid’s statement in fact exposed fear in the government ranks as people were anxiously waiting for Mr Sharif to come back.

“When [ex-] prime minister Nawaz Sharif comes home, Niazi and the hired spokespersons will find no place to hide themselves,” Mr Sanaullah said, adding that a bewildered Imran Niazi had abolished PTI’s constitution and the party was now extinct in legal terms.

Referring to Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s air ticket offer, the PML-N Punjab president said those whose tickets had been issued by people should take care of themselves instead of making offers to others.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2021

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