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The Minister for Law and Justice Farogh nasim on Friday said that no one would be allowed to overturn the Al-Azizia sentence unless the high court finds the verdict was issued under duress by the accountability judge. Speaking at a presser along with adviser to the prime minister on accountability Shehzad Akber, shortly after withdrawing the services of Accountability Court judge, the minister said that Arshad Malik was barred from serving as an accountability court judge after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) requested the law ministry to surrender his services to his parent department till further orders over the video scandal.
"The government wants NAB [National Accountability Bureau] to investigate criminal activities done to hamper the investigation, prosecution and conviction processes [of the incarcerated former prime minister Nawaz Sharif] under National Accountability Ordinance," he added.
Naseem said that Judge Arshad Malik has formally been asked to stop performing further duties as a judge following the 'video leak scandal' although the final verdict of him being sacked lies with the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi.
He said that the judge has claimed that he was blackmailed and threatened to play a partisan role in the corruption case against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
Referencing the judge's affidavit, the minister said: "Arshad Malik has claimed that he was being harassed and threatened". He asserted that the judge, in his affidavit, has reiterated that the verdict against Nawaz Sharif was delivered without any pressure or fear, while adding that the verdict was on merit.
"Logically speaking how can one acquit someone in one case and convict in another if there was any pressure with respect to cases," he questioned.
He reiterated that the Al-Azizia sentence will not be overturned unless the IHC decides the verdict was issued under duress.
The announcement came as the PML-N raised calls for the Al-Azizia sentence to be set aside and Nawaz Sharif's immediate release.
The Minister also revealed that if the accusations hurled by the Judge were proven to be true after investigation then those being named might have to face a jail sentencing up to 10 years for trying to influence a high level case, under the NAB ordinance article 31 (a).
He said the government, law ministry and PM Imran Khan are with justice, adding neither will favor anyone nor will disfavor, but nobody will be allowed to temper with and pressurize the courts, he said while adding that otherwise section 31 (a) he will be dealt with accordingly.
The special assistant to prime minister on accountability said that it was important to bring forth the entire situation in front of people. "On one side, IHC demanded his [Arshad Malik's] removal over video scandal and on the other, the press release of Arshad malik and affidavit are there," he added.
While highlighting the main points of the affidavit, he started off with "mafia" which was mentioned in the Panama verdict which included the word mafia in it too. He said the Panama case is a saga that starts on greed followed by bribe, threats and blackmailing and ends on corruption.
He said according to the affidavit, the appointment of Judge Arshad Malik was done under some ulterior motives. He said 10 million was offered to the judge in any country or in any other currency. He said the most important thing is that the case was transferred to Arshad Malik as previously Judge Bashir was hearing the case but on the request of accused person the case was transferred to him while thinking that the verdict would be taken in favor of the accused, which was already planned but unfortunately, the verdict was not as per their desires.
He said during the case proceedings, Nasir Butt, Nasir Janjua and Mahar Jilani contacted Arshad Malik and offerred him bribe, threatened and blackmailed him to get the verdict in favor of Nawaz Sharif, which they could not achieve.
After that, on February 2019, Arshad Malik was again contacted and another character, Khurrum Sharif and Mian Tariq, were involved and Mian Tariq started blackmailing him over the Multan video.
"It is important to understand that during this time, Nawaz Sharif was on bail," he said.
On April 6, 2019, the judge met with Nawaz Sharif even and Nasir Butt threatened him while saying he facilitated Nawaz Sharif in the murder cases.
On May 28, 2019, Nasir Butt brought Arshad Malik to meet Hussain Nawaz, who offered him 50 million and asked him to resign, he said as per affidavit.
After delivering background, he said national accountability ordinance section 31 (a) is very important under which an FIR can be registered.
It is necessary to investigate what was the background story of this scheme, how the judge has been bribed and threatened and blackmailed including the videos being made and used.
He said even now the judicial process is being influenced.
He said that "I feel pity on the people who were sitting in the press conference of Maryam Nawaz helplessly," adding that the investigation should be done of the people involved in the press conference and especially because the one (Khaqan Abbasi) was PM at that time when the appointment of the judge was made.
He said the conviction has been done over a reference and unless and until they provide the money trail, he cannot be released.
The only forum left is judicial forum, he said while adding the criminal appeal has been appended with the affidavit in the IHC and a decision will be made there. He suggested PMLN to take whatsoever they have to the right forum.
While answering a question, the law minister said that the important thing is that judge was not even aware of his appointment for the case that why he was chosen for. He said the only merit lies for PMLN is to provide money trail of the London flats. The case is all documentary evidence, if they don't have money trail then the case cannot be turned into their favor for whatsoever reasons.
Responding to another question Shahzad Akbar said that the NAB ordinances section 31 (a) is relevant, as there are two laws, NAB special law and PPC but since the case is relevant to NAB. A criminal activity was done to hamper the investigation, prosecution and conviction, he said. In this case, if the judge has been accountable, the relevant department or law ministry will take care of it, he added.
In addition whether IHC verdict will be waited for or ministry will take up any inquiry or investigation, Naseem said 31(a) is independent of the case which is more of an influence in another case which NAB will investigate. Under article 32, chairman NAB, deputy chairman NAB and persecutor general NAB will decide this whether NAB will investigate this separately and whether a separate reference of section 31(a) will be applied. Shahzad Akber said proceedings are under consideration and FIA can be engaged insofar as video is concerned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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