IHC requested to amend affidavit order

ISLAMABAD: The journalist who reported on an affidavit accusing former chief justice Saqib Nisar of bias against members of the Sharif family requested the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to amend an order it delivered Friday.

Former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Muhammad Shamim, long-associated with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in November claimed in the affidavit notarized in London that Nisar did not want deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz to be released on bail ahead of the general elections in July 2018.

The two were convicted in a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) reference related to their ownership of four multi-million-dollar London apartments weeks before the elections on July 25. When their counsels moved the high court for suspension of the conviction, the case was adjourned until the last week of July.

Shamim, Ansar Abbasi who broke the story, The News Editor Aamir Ghouri and Jang Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mir Shakeel ur-Rehman are now facing a contempt case in the court of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 1998 and will be indicted on January 7.

In a 12-page order released Friday, Justice Minallah said the journalist “[…] implied that the contents of the document [affidavit] were true because otherwise, in the public interest, the news report would not have been published”.

In his petition, Abbasi requested the judge “to delete the relevant paragraph”.

Responding to the observation if the publication “would report affidavits based on false facts to influence the court proceedings”, he said: “Our response to this question is that we will report [such news] in the public interest.”

Abbasi said he never intended to influence the court proceedings against members of the Sharif family.

He said he only reported the existence of the document, and conceded his story never claimed that the contents of the document were in fact true.

Abbasi said he published the story in good faith, adding it was not his aim to cast aspersions on judges or influence the court proceedings.

On Thursday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the court to drop contempt proceedings against Abbasi, Ghouri and Rehman for publishing the story.

“I verified my sources [before publishing the news],” Abbasi told RSF.

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