Pakistani judge rejects accusations he ruled against ex-PM Sharif under duress

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Maryam Nawaz addresses rally in Mandi Bahauddin a district in Punjab on July 07, 2019. (Photo Courtesy – PML-N)
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Ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, appears with his daughter, Maryam, at a news conference in London on July 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 08 July 2019

Pakistani judge rejects accusations he ruled against ex-PM Sharif under duress

  • Says decided all cases “on the basis of evidence” despite being offered bribes and threatened by Sharifs
  • Sharif’s daughter held a press conference on Saturday, showed a secretly-filmed video of the judge admitting he wrote verdicts under pressure

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court judge said on Sunday he had ruled in a corruption case against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the “basis of evidence,” rejecting accusations by the daughter of the jailed leader that her father was wrongfully convicted because the judge was “blackmailed” into issuing a wrongful verdict.
At a press conference flanked by senior leaders of the Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party on Saturday, Maryam Nawaz Sharif said accountability judge Arshad Malik had confessed during a meeting with PMLN leader Nasir Butt that he was forced to issue an “unjust” verdict against Sharif by ‘people’ who blackmailed him with a “personal video.” The video of Malik’s conversation with Butt was ostensibly filmed in secret, without his permission.
Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $25 million on corruption charges by Judge Malik in December last year who ruled that the three-time prime minister was unable to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Under Pakistani law, this is taken to prove corruption. On the same day, Malik acquitted Sharif in a second case relating to Flagship Investments, a company established by his son, Hasan Nawaz, that owns luxury properties in Britain.
“If I had to bow to pressure or any material greed, I would not have exonerated [Nawaz Sharif] in one case and handed down punishment in another one,” Malik said in a press statement on Sunday. “I want to clarify it there was neither any direct or indirect pressure on me nor was there any greed. I decided all these cases on the basis of evidence.”
He added that representatives of the Sharif family had offered him bribes repeatedly to rule in the former prime minister’s favor and also threatened him: “I decided to stay firm … entrusted my life and wealth to Allah,” Malik said.
He said the video shown in Maryam’s presser was “fake and concocted,” urging legal action against those involved in making it.
Describing the clip as “divine help” for her family, Maryam had described during her press conference that the judge could be heard in the video highlighting several flaws in his own verdict that he wanted Nasir Butt to convey to the Sharif family lawyers to help him get an acquittal verdict in appeal hearings.
Sharif has always termed the charges against him politically motivated and accused the military and courts of working together to end his political career and destabilize the PMLN party. Both deny the charge.
PMLN spokesperson Marrium Aurangzeb rejected Malik’s accusations that he was offered bribes or threatened by Sharif family representatives, and said if there was pressure on the judge, he should have come forward earlier while the cases were being heard.
“If there was pressure on him, he should have told Supreme Court ... that Sharif family representatives had offered him a bribe,” she told Arab News on Sunday.
A day earlier, Pakistan’s de facto information minister, Firdous Ashiq Awan, had condemned the allegations against the accountability judge and said the PML-N had maligned the judiciary. She said a forensic audit of the video would be conducted, adding that it was important to ascertain if the contents of the video were “real or tampered.”
Pakistan’s Electronic Media regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has also sent a notice to several private news channels over the live broadcast of Maryam’s press conference, calling it “in violation of PEMRA laws and code of conduct.”
On Sunday, opposition leader and chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto, expressed “grave concern” over Maryam’s allegations and called upon the superior judiciary to take appropriate action.
“If for some reason the judiciary is not inclined to address such issues then the opposition parties must deliberate on it and formulate a united course of action,” Bilawal’s spokesperson senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said.
Politics professor Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais said if the video was indeed genuine, then “the burden of proof is on the honorable judge to prove he was blackmailed.”
“Ethically, professionally and legally, a judge, such as him, is wrong and guilty of miscarriage of justice if he admits that he has given a verdict under pressure,” Rais said. “I think the judge has been drafted into playing politics in support of the Sharif family. He had an option to recuse himself from the case if he felt someone was placing him under pressure.”

Pakistan in control with England chasing 277 in first test

Updated 08 August 2020

Pakistan in control with England chasing 277 in first test

  • Leg-spinner Yasir Shah claimed two wickets as the home team, chasing a target of 277 for victory, slipped to 167-5
  • Earlier, Pakistan resumed on 137-8 and added a quickfire 32 runs before being bowled out for 169

MANCHESTER: Yasir Shah put Pakistan in pole position to beat England at tea on day four of the first test at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Leg-spinner Yasir claimed two wickets as the home team, chasing a target of 277 for victory, slipped to 167-5.

England’s hopes now rest largely with Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, who went on the counter-attack at the fall of the fifth wicket and have so far shared an unbroken stand of 50.

Buttler is unbeaten on 32, with Woakes 26 not out.

Rory Burns was the first man out, falling lbw to Mohammad Abbas for 10. The England opener was given out by the on-field umpire and his decision to review the call proved in vain, with video replays showing the ball would have gone on to clip the top of the bails.

There appeared to be some friction between the two teams as Burns exchanged a few words with the Pakistani fielders on his way back to the pavilion, while putting his finger to his mouth as if to silence the opposition.

Captain Joe Root and Dom Sibley then put on 64 for the second wicket before Sibley was caught off Yasir for 36.

Fast bowler Naseem Shah struck 10 runs later to remove Root for 42 before dangerman Ben Stokes was caught by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan off Yasir for 9.

Ollie Pope also fell to a brute of a delivery from paceman Shaheen Afridi for seven.

Earlier, Pakistan resumed on 137-8 and added a quickfire 32 runs before being bowled out for 169.

Yasir led the way with 33 before he was caught behind by Buttler off Stuart Broad. Last-man Naseem (4) was then bowled by Jofra Archer.

Broad finished with figures of 3-37, taking his tally of victims to six in the match, and there were also two wickets apiece for Woakes and Stokes.