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New Pandora Box opened in Pakistan, Rana Shamim accuses Saqib Nisar

ISLAMABAD: A new ‘Pandora Box’ in Pakistan’s volatile political situation was opened when former Chief Judge Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim had claimed that former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Saqib Nisar had asked a high court judge to keep Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif in jail till the 2018 general elections.

Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar has dismissed these allegations and termed the claims as baseless. He said the allegations against him are far from reality and termed them as a lie. Nisar added that Rana Shamim had asked him for an extension in his tenure as CJ GB, which he didn’t approve.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz

Saqib Nisar said that Rana Shameem was asking for extension as Gilgit Baltistan Chief Justice but I didn’t approve.” What I can say on this lie of Rana Shameem, it’s not wise to record reaction on every fake and baseless allegation.”

Rana Shamim’s statement was given under oath before the Oath Commissioner on November 10, 2021. The affidavit, duly notarized, contains the signature of the ex-CJ of Gilgit Baltistan as well as an image of his NIC card. The notary public stamped the affidavit and recorded that it was “sworn under oath Before me” on November 10, 2021.

Both Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were convicted by an accountability court in a graft case before the July 25, 2018 general elections. Their lawyers had moved the court for suspension of the conviction but the case after initial hearings was postponed till last week of July.

Rana Shamim had stated in a notarized affidavit that he had been witness to then CJP Saqib Nisar’s direction to a high court judge not to release Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on bail at any cost before the 2018 general elections.

“Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must remain in jail until the general elections are over,” the former judge stated in his statement.

Details of Rana Shamim’s claims

The former chief judge of the apex court of Gilgit Baltistan Rana M Shamim has stated in a notarized affidavit that he was a witness to the then CJP Saqib Nisar’s direction to a high court judge not to release Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on bail at any cost before the 2018 general elections.

“Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must remain in jail until the general elections are over. On assurances from the other side, he (Saqib Nisar) became calm and happily demanded another cup of tea,” this is what is said in the affidavit of the former top judge of GB talking about the then top judge of Pakistan.

Former chief judge Gilgit & Baltistan Rana Shamim

The burning debate in the country ignited after publication a report of veteran journalist and anchor person Ansar Abbasi in ‘The News’ and Geo TV. The document claims, Shamim’s statement was given under oath before the Oath Commissioner on November 10, 2021. The affidavit, duly notarized, contains the signature of the ex-CJ of Gilgit Baltistan as well as an image of his NIC card. The notary public stamped the affidavit and recorded that it was “sworn under oath Before me” on Nov 10, 2021.

Both Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were convicted by an accountability court in a graft case before the July 25, 2018 general elections. Their lawyers had moved court for suspension of the conviction but the case after initial hearings was postponed till last week of July.

When approached on Sunday, Rana Shamim initially confirmed the content of the affidavit read to him on a WhatsApp call by this correspondent. Then he said that he could not hear this scribe clearly. He was called back immediately but his WhatsApp was found turned off. He also did not pick up regular calls, repeatedly made to him. Later, his mobile phone was also found turned off. After a break of a few hours, the former top judge of GB sent a mobile message to this correspondent from another number confirming the content of the statement.

Former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar when approached categorically denied that he had ever directed any of his subordinate judges in connection with any judicial order whether it pertained to Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz or anyone else.

Except for the editing of the name of the high court judge, the following is the content of Shamim’s statement on oath:

“I Justice Dr Rana Muhammad Shamim, former Chief Judge, Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Balistan (31 August 2015 to 30 Aug 2018) do hereby make the following statement under oath: –

1. In July 2018 while I was serving as the Chief Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Baltistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, came to Gilgit for vacations along with 27 family members and stayed in the guest house of the court.

2. That one evening when I, my late wife, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and his wife were taking tea in the lawn, I found the Chief Justice of Pakistan to be very disturbed and continuously talking on the phone to his registrar, directing him to go to the residence of Justice —— of —— and request him to immediately call him (the CJP).

3. That in case his call does not get through, then convey to him on his (Mian Saqib Nisar’s) behalf that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must not be released on bail before the general elections at any cost.

4. That shortly afterwards he also spoke to Justice —— directly and told him that Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must remain in jail until the general elections are over. On assurance from the other side he became calm and happily demanded another cup of tea.

5. I, as his colleague and host, requested him to spend his vacations with his family in Gilgit Baltistan and then asked him why he conveyed such a message to Justice —– and for what. He said, “Rana Sahib you will never understand. You must treat it as if you never heard anything.” I told him in the presence of my late wife and his wife that Mian Nawaz Sharif has been falsely implicated and his sentence and that of Maryam Nawaz were both managed as was evident from his phone calls. He was initially disturbed to hear that but then relaxed again and said, “Rana Sahib the chemistry of Punjab is different from Gilgit Baltistan.”

6. That whatever is stated voluntarily herein above constitutes the complete truth.”

Saqib Nisar rejects allegations

Former chief justice of Supreme Court Saqib Nisar

Former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar has dismissed these allegations and termed the claims as baseless. He said the allegations against him are far from reality and termed them as a lie. Nisar added that Rana Shamim had asked him for an extension in his tenure as CJ GB, which he didn’t approve.

Saqib Nisar said that Rana Shameem was asking for extension as Gilgit Baltistan Chief Justice but I didn’t approve.” What I can say on this lie of Rana Shameem, it’s not wise to record reaction on every fake and baseless allegation.”

Mian Saqib Nisar talking to various media outlets, vehemently denied the allegations levelled against him and called the report a “self-motivated story”. “I have never spoken to anybody or any high court judge in connection to any matter related to Mian Sahab,” he said.

He added that he could only remember speaking to Shamim when he called him to offer condolences about the latter’s wife passing away. “At the time he had voiced grievances regarding his extension,” Nisar recalled, adding that Shamim could have “any motive” for making the claims.

The former chief justice reiterated that the claims were “absolutely untrue”. When asked why he had not issued a public statement on the matter, he replied: “Why should I? […] I don’t want to stoop to his level”.

Rana Shahmim rejects Nisar’s allegations

Rana Muhammad Shamim on Monday rejected allegations of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar. He clarified that he neither asked for extension in his term nor does the Chief Justice of Pakistan has the authority to grant it.

Rana Muhammad Shamim further asked Saqib Nisar that under which article of the constitution he could grant extension. “I stand by my statement which I gave to journalist Ansar Abbasi against former CJP Justice retired Saqib Nisar.”

Reacting to the demand for an extension by him, Rana Shamim said the then CJP Sadiq Nisar did not have the right to extend my services. The Supreme Courts of GB and AJK are not subordinates of SCP, he added.

Shahbaz Sharif

Later, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and opposition leader in National Assembly (NA) Shehbaz Sharif said that explosive news story peels off a thick layer of a grand scheme employed to target party supremo Nawaz Sharif and vice president Maryam Nawaz.

In a post on social-networking website Twitter, the PML-N leader said, “Allah has His own way of revealing the truth. It’s yet another vindication of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam in the court of public opinion.”

Shehbaz Sharif said that the “explosive” news report was yet another vindication for Nawaz and Maryam in the “court of public opinion”. The report peeled off a “thick layer of a grand scheme employed to target” the PML-N chief and his daughter, he said.

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb also said that the “disgusting conspiracy” against the former premier and the characters involved in it were being exposed.

She said that with the latest development, Nawaz and Maryam’s innocence was “clear as day”, adding that the individuals involved in the incident should be brought to justice and punished. “This conspiracy was not only against Nawaz but also against Pakistan and the people of Pakistan,” she said.

Reaction from ministers

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry asked Sharif family how it accumulated properties worth billions of rupees, instead of fabricating silly stories and conspiracy theories.

In his tweets, Fawad questioned from where Nawaz Sharif got the money to purchase Avenfield Apartments which were later given to Maryam Nawaz.

The minister recalled that Maryam Nawaz used to say that she does not own any property neither in London nor in Pakistan. “A campaign is being run by certain elements to prove that Nawaz Sharif is innocent.”

“It is hard to believe how a judge would issue such sensitive instructions in front of another person, while having tea. And even the prime minister is not an ordinary man, he is the prime minister,” tweeted Chaudhry.

The minister said that instead of “fabricating silly stories and conspiracy theories”, Nawaz should tell about the source of the money for the Avenfield Apartments.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill said the “sudden” development was due to the upcoming hearing of Maryam’s appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield reference.

Stating that the PML-N leader wanted it “delayed at any cost”, Gill said a first information report should be registered against Shamim for keeping mum on the matter for so many years. He also questioned how Shamim was appointed a judge in GB.

The PM’s aide also questioned the source of the money used to purchase apartments abroad by the PML-N leaders. “There will be more [attempts] to stop [the hearing for] Maryam’s appeal by trying to influence the courts,” Gill said.