REPORTERS Without Borders (RSF) called upon the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday to drop contempt proceedings against two journalists working for The News and the newspaper’s owner for publishing a former judge’s leaked affidavit revealing alleged judicial collusion to deny bail to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam before the 2018 general election.

“I verified my sources,” Ansar Abbasi, an investigative reporter with The News, told RSF.

But Chief Justice Athar Minallah of the IHC initiated contempt of court proceedings against him, Aamir Ghauri, the newspaper’s editor, and Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Jang Group, which owns the newspaper.

The proceedings were prompted by an article, written by Mr Abbasi and published on Nov 15, claiming Rana Shamim, a former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, had signed an affidavit stating that shortly before the general election, he heard Mian Saqib Nisar, then chief justice of Pakistan, telling a judge of the Islamabad High Court not to grant bail to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief.

In a written statement submitted to the court this month, Rana Shamim denied he had shared the affidavit with any one and said he “laid the entire blame” for the leak on Ansar Abbasi.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2021

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