- A lot at stake for the PML-N
The video clip released by PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz on Saturday had a dramatic impact. It raised serious questions about the integrity of the accountability judge Arshad Malik who had sentenced Nawaz Sharif to 7 years in jail in the Al-Azizia reference in December last year. On Friday, the judge was removed from the post and sent back to his parent department by the acting Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court. Questions are now being raised by the PML-N about the propriety of keeping the former PM in jail.
Judge Arshad Malik’s letter to the Acting Chief Justice claiming that the video clip being shared is fake, along with an affidavit maintaining that attempts were made to bribe him by the accused during the trial, were both made a part of the record in former PM’s petition for acquittal.
A bamboozled PTI has continued to shift its stand over the leaked video clip. Taken by surprise over its contents, PM’s Information Advisor Firdous Ashiq Awan promised to order a forensic examination of the video. Presumably finding afterwards that the video was genuine, the party leaders including Prime Minister Imran Khan declared that it was for the court to get the forensic examination conducted. In a press conference on Friday, Law Minister Farogh Naseem and PM’s Accountability Advisor Shahzad Akbar took another U-turn by defending the former accountability judge, leading critics to maintain that this was done so that the former judge may not spill the beans about what the government had been doing to get a judgment of its liking against former PM Nawaz Sharif
Ms Nawaz has called for declaring the verdict against the former prime minister null and void as it was given under pressure. She maintains that the removal of the judge clearly means that the honourable judiciary has accepted the truth. And if so, how can an unjust verdict be maintained after the removal of its author? The developments have led many to expect a retrial in the Al-Azizia reference. Things will become clearer as the Supreme Court too has decided to take up a petition calling for determining the truth of the video next week.