PML-N leadership not
approached court on
Saqib’s audiotape: IHC

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Wednesday questioned why the court should order an inquiry into an alleged audiotape of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar when the top PML-N leadership whom it concerns have not approached the court themselves.

He made these remarks while hearing arguments on the maintainability of a petition seeking the formation of an independent commission to ascertain the authenticity of an alleged audio of Nisar and probe certain events be­fore and after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s conviction.

The petition has been jointly filed by Salahuddin Ahmed, president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, and Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, a member of the Judicial Commission (Sindh).

According to a Dawn report, in the leaked audio clip, an unidentified individual, allegedly Nisar, can be heard speaking of a collusion to punish former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in order to bring their political rival Imran Khan into power. The former top judge had branded the audio as “fabricated”.

In the last hearing, the IHC had issued notice to Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan to appear in court and present his arguments on the maintainability of the petition.

During today’s hearing, Justice Minallah asked the AGP who the court should issue orders to regarding an inquiry.

Rana Shamim and IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah

Khan responded that the petition had been filed under Article 199-C of the Constitution — that relates to a high court’s jurisdiction in cases regarding enforcement of fundamental rights.

“It seems like they (petitioners) have filed a proxy petition. A perception should not be given that the petitioners are arguing someone else’s case,” he said, adding that sometimes people did not know when they were being used.

“This is the season of harassing and pressuring judges. Sometimes an audio, sometimes some concocted affidavit is released,” the attorney general said, referring to an affidavit by former Gilgit-Baltistan chief justice Rana Shamim in which he accused ex-CJP Nisar of colluding to deny bails to Nawaz and Maryam before general elections 2018.

The petitioner had mentioned events of 2017, the AGP continued — talking about a letter mentioned in the petition that alleged the then-chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) had received a call from a United States number to include the name of Bilal Rasool in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted by the Supreme Court to look into the assets of Nawaz and his family.

There was a prime minister (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) who was hanged on the court’s orders, AGP Khan said. “Former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto’s government was not restored but another one was. Briefcases full [of cash] were also given in the past.”

If the petitioners wanted to conduct inquiries into past events, they should amend their petition, Khan argued. “Why should we go only till 2017? Let’s go to [the tenure of] Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto,” he said.

Recalling events from the PML-N and PPP governments, the attorney general said it should be found out why Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who was appointed the chief justice in 1994, was removed from his post. “Who were the suitcases full of money going to? Let us do accountability of all those who are alive,” he argued.

“Why are people choosing only one prime minister and coming to court as their proxy? One chief minister called a judge and the [court’s] decision was declared void but action was not taken against anyone. Thousands of people are left unemployed (after an SC order) but no videos come from them.”

Everybody was claiming that they had videos these days, Khan said. “Today is the day of accountability,” he added.