ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday asked the Attorney General for Pakistan to recommend some credible firms for a forensic analysis of the alleged audio clip of former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar about the conviction of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah deliberated upon the suggestion for forensic analysis while hearing a petition filed by Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) president Salahuddin Ahmed and observed: “On next date of hearing [AG] is expected to assist the Court regarding the aforementioned suggestion and recommend credible firms/company.

“The petitioner is also expected to obtain the audio and place it on record.”

IHC expects petitioner to obtain ex-CJP’s clip, place it on record

Ex-CJP Nisar, in his alleged voice clip, could be heard saying: “Let me be a little blunt about it. Unfortunately, here it is the institutions that dictate judgements. In this case, we will have to punish Mian sahab [Nawaz Sharif]. [I] have been told ‘we have to bring Khan sahab [into power].’” He allegedly went on to add, “punishment will have to be given”. Another man could be heard in the audio clip claiming that Maryam Nawaz “doesn’t merit a sentence”, the ex-CJP allegedly said: “You are absolutely correct. I talked to my friends that something should be done about this but they did not agree. The independence of the judiciary will not remain. So let it be.”

According to the petition, the SHCBA president has sought an independent commission to ascertain the veracity of a letter of former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Zafar Hijazi in which he accused the then Supreme Court registrar of issuing instructions for nomination of Bilal Rasool as JIT (Joint Investigation Team) member to investigate assets of the Sharif family; speech of former justice Shaukat Siddiqui who blamed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for manipulating judicial proceedings; an affidavit of former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Mohammad Shamim and the alleged audio of ex-CJP Nisar.

When Justice Minallah asked the petitioner if he knew about the original audio clip, the petitioner replied in negative. He expressed confidence in the IHC and said the focus of his petition was former CJP Nisar’s alleged audio that needed to be verified as the matter related to public trust in the independence of judiciary.

While referring to the report uploaded by a website Fact Focus by journalist Ahmed Noorani, the petitioner claimed the audio was uploaded after conducting its forensic analysis.

Justice Minallah perused the report and termed it ‘inconclusive’ because it did not mention the exact audio that had been subjected to forensic analysis. “Moreover, admittedly neither the original audio is available nor the documents obtained from the internet can be relied upon,” the court order stated.

When the court asked the petitioner “whether the alleged audio is in his possession”, he said it was not in his possession but that the media had displayed it.

Asked if the audio clip could be sent for a forensic analysis, the petitioner stated he would be satisfied if it was sent for a forensic analysis to a ‘credible’ company/firm, but did not suggest any firm. He said since AG Khalid Jawed Khan at an earlier hearing had accused the petitioner as ‘proxy’ therefore, the AG was the appropriate person for recommending the credible forensic agency.

In its order, the court stated: “The petitioner shall be at liberty to seek the assistance of Pakistan Bar Council.” The court however noted that “the proceedings in the petition in hand have a direct nexus with a matter [pending appeals of Sharif family] sub judice before this court. The petitioner and the learned Attorney General are also expected to assist regarding the consequences in the context of the pending appeals.”

When the IHC chief justice inquired from the petitioner who would bear the cost of the forensic analysis of the audio clip, the latter suggested that the law ministry should bear the cost. Justice Minallah, however, did not agree upon the suggestion saying that taxpayers should not be burdened with the cost of the forensic analysis and sought proposal from the attorney general in this regard.

The court then adjourned further proceedings till Jan 28.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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