PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, in a fiery speech on Thursday, came down hard on a “cabal of five”, among which were former and serving members of the judiciary, whom she accused of “conspiring” against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
Addressing a workers’ convention in Sargodha, Maryam — who is currently on a reorganisation tour to shape her party’s narrative — said: “Ever since this watch thief left the government, our ears are tired of hearing ‘there was a conspiracy, there was a conspiracy’.”
Her watch-related jibe was aimed at PTI chief Imran Khan, who has acknowledged that he sold a wristwatch he had procured from the state treasury during his time as the prime minister.
“Today, I will tell the nation that the real conspiracy took place against Nawaz Sharif,” Maryam roared.
On the PML-N leader’s cue, a video screen showed a combo picture of the five people she held responsible, saying: “The people of Sargodha should also see the ones behind the conspiracy”.
The pictures included ex-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed, former chief justices Asif Khosa and Saqib Nisar, and two sitting Supreme Court judges, who are currently part of a top court bench hearing a suo motu case to determine who has the constitutional responsibility and authority to announce the date for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Pakistan Bar Council has called on one of the judges to “voluntarily recuse to remain as part of the bench”.
It is pertinent to mention that over the past week audio clips have also surfaced on social media wherein ex-Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi — who has now joined the PTI — is purportedly heard giving directives for fixing cases before one of the two judges Maryam named.
“What can you see on the screen? Can you see the cabal of five? Those visible on the screen are responsible for Pakistan’s crisis,” she said, alleging that the ex-ISI chief, who had “appointed himself the chief of army staff”, was their head.
“Because he wanted to be [the] chief and he needed pawns. He needed a political face. Nawaz Sharif could never be that pawn […] so who did he choose? Imran Khan the watch thief.”
She alleged that a leader of a political party, who is also a part of the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), told her that when Gen (retd) Hameed was asked why he was doing wrong by Nawaz, the ex-spymaster replied that the PML-N supremo needed to be “cut to size”.
One of the two serving judges shown on the screen, Maryam said, was part of the bench that disqualified Nawaz in the Panama Papers case. “He is dreaming of becoming the chief justice […] It has been five to six years since Nawaz was disqualified but he is still sitting as a judge in every case against Nawaz.”
The PML-N leader claimed that when Imran’s 2014 sit-in failed, ex-CJP Khosa told the PTI chief to bring the Panama case before him so that Nawaz could be disqualified.
“In those days, every verdict was against Nawaz […] PML-N leaders were singled out and disqualified. Today, when the establishment has tossed aside the basket of trash named Imran, these two three judges have carried it.”
She said that at a time when the PTI’s long march had failed and when Imran had dissolved the two provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the two judges had taken it upon themselves to bring him back into power. She accused the judges of trying to “give [a new lease of] life to Imran’s impending political death”.
She alleged that ex-ISI chief Gen (retd) Hameed was “still sitting somewhere and operating”. She said that the former spymaster was not making these moves out of his “love for Imran”, but was doing it in fear of the crimes he had committed during the last five years. “He knows he made billions and then sent those billions to Dubai and other Gulf countries.”
Maryam also played the audio purportedly featuring former Punjab chief minister Elahi and one of the top court judges.
“Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial sahab, the people of Sargodha know that bench fixing is taking place, why are you unaware bench fixing is taking place?”
Maryam further said that the two top court judges had taken notice of the transfer of the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO) and “brought back Imran’s man”.
“And then, while hearing the case, they suddenly landed on [the topic of] elections. It’s a good thing. The PML-N is not scared of elections […] they reached [the topic of elections] and a nine-member bench was constituted which again includes these two judges.”
She further said: “Instead of holding these two judges accountable, they were included in the nine-member bench. Two senior most judges whose integrity has never been questioned were left out of the nine-member bench but these two were included.”
Addressing the top court, Maryam said: “You have sat down to ponder the responsibility of the electoral watchdog. You have sat down to ponder the responsibility of the government. You have sat down to ponder the responsibility of the governor. Sure, go for it but did you ever pay attention to your basic responsibility? Your responsibility is to make non-controversial benches. Are you fulfilling that responsibility?”
The PML-N leader said that even the country’s bar councils had protested against the inclusion of the two judges in the bench hearing the suo motu case regarding the Punjab and KP elections.
“Where will Pakistan go if Imran is rescued by a few SC judges?” she asked, adding that the PTI chief was merely a “front man”.
On Sunday, Maryam, in light of the leaked audio clip purportedly featuring Elahi and one of the Supreme Court judges, had asked for accountability in the judiciary and said Pakistan needed “honest judges” instead of the ones who allegedly favoured Imran.
Addressing a workers’ convention in Rawalpindi, the PML-N senior vice president said that judges named in the audio leak should have “moral courage” to resign from their post.
She said the entire judiciary was not lopsided but there were only some judges in the judiciary who were allegedly biased. “Imran Khan is looking to get support from the judiciary to come back to power after failing to get support from the establishment,” she alleged.
She claimed there were some followers of former spymaster Gen (retd) Hameed in the judiciary and they needed to be held “accountable”.