–Deposed PM says ‘what is happening in country is not less than martial law’
–Slams restrictions on media and freedom of speech, says there should be no hurdle in PTM’s rallies
–Claims ‘serious efforts’ are being made to convict him in graft cases ‘to make the five judges successful’
–Asks Chief Justice Nisar to focus on judicial backlog and desist from interfering in executive’s domain
–Says JI chief’s ‘revelation’ about Senate chairman polls is ‘meaningful’, calls current parliament ‘weak’
ISLAMABAD: Venting out his anguish at the superior judiciary on Monday, deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that recent actions by the top judiciary indicate that a regime worse than a martial law has been imposed across Pakistan.
Nawaz and his daughter Maryam arrived from London earlier on Monday to attend the accountability proceedings. The two had requested an exemption from appearance citing Kulsoom Nawaz’s deteriorating heath, however, their exemption plea was not entertained by the court.
“What is prevalent in the country is not democracy, but the worst kind of dictatorship under [Chief Justice Mian] Saqib Nisar,” he said while speaking to reporters inside the accountability court after appearing in the Avenfield flats reference hearing. He also referred to recent hurdles faced by a protest movement and media organisations.
“What is happening in the country is not less than a ‘judicial martial law’,” said the former PM, who returned from London late on Sunday.
“In my political life, I have never seen such restrictions on media and freedom of speech,” he added. Nawaz then quoted former president Idi Amin of Uganda and said, “I can guarantee freedom of speech but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.”
“There should be no hurdles in the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement’s (PTM) rallies, it’s wrong to stop them from rallying, it’s their right,” he said referring to the protest movement.
Criticising recent judgements by the courts as “illogical”, Nawaz said the alleged silencing of 220 million people of Pakistan would not be acceptable to him. “These many restrictions were not even imposed during the martial laws that we are seeing today,” he remarked.
The deposed PM said that nobody has accepted judgements against him, even the petitioners, including Imran Khan, adding that prominent lawyers have termed the decision as weak.
Referring to his disqualifications, the three-time prime minister asked how “they will answer to history”? “Current judgments are weaker than those of Justice Munir.”
The Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo claimed that serious efforts are being made to convict him in the corruption references being heard by the accountability court, which he said were an attempt “to make the five judges successful” — a reference to the five-member SC bench which had disqualified him last year in the Panama Papers case.
“The reason for this is plain and simple – so that the five judges of the apex court can save face, and save themselves from embarrassment,” Nawaz alleged.
Directing his criticism at the CJP once again, Nawaz said that Justice Nisar visits hospitals regularly and talks about vegetable prices, but “he should also visit the home of an oppressed person whose case hasn’t been decided for 20 years”.
“He [CJP] should know the rates of potatoes and tomatoes, how much the public buses cost, the state of hospitals and the price of medications, but he should turn his attention to the scores of pending cases,” he added.
“It is not your job to summon the chief minister and make the government stand in the line,” he said, addressing the CJP.
The SC, under its 2018 agenda, is focusing on human rights issues, particularly those relating to the people’s right to quality education and healthcare. However, this course of action is also being seen as an overstepping of boundaries by the apex court, similar to the Iftikhar Chaudhry era.
However, the chief justice has stood by the court’s actions, reiterating that such criticism will not deter him from exercising what he considers is his “constitutional right”.
SIRAJUL HAQ’S REVELATIONS ‘MEANINGFUL’:
Referring to the remarks by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Senator Sirjaul Haq about the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) voting for Sadiq Sanjrani during the Senate elections following an “order from the top”, Nawaz Sharif said the revelation was meaningful.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan has reprimanded his party’s MPAs who allegedly engaged in horsetrading, but he should open himself to criticism as well for voting on somebody’s instructions, Nawaz said. “Will Imran Khan also answer the nation about how Chaudhry Sarwar managed to get votes [in Punjab]?” he questioned.
“Will Imran Khan assure the nation that he did not vote for the arrow?” he asked, referring to PPP’s symbol.
Commenting on the incumbent parliament, Nawaz said the parliament has no power and lacks the will. “The coming parliament will have the guts to do something and take a stand,” he added.
Criticising the nature of proceedings against him, he said, “a former prime minister is facing charges and trial because he ordered the extension of a road? Is this how they reward a three-time PM?” Nawaz questioned, gesturing to the Jati Umra road extension case filed by NAB against him.
The hearing of the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference could not be held today due to an apparent confusion about recording the testimony of Wajid Zia, the head of the SC-sanctioned joint investigation team. The hearing of the case was adjourned until Tuesday, and Nawaz and his daughter Maryam were allowed to leave by the court.