Pakistani judge who jailed former PM sacked over blackmail claims

Maryam Nawaz (L), daughter of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, speaks as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif (R) looks on during a press conference in Lahore on July 6, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2019

Pakistani judge who jailed former PM sacked over blackmail claims

  • Judge Arshad Malik’s removal prompts calls by Sharif’s PML-N party for his release
  • Malik has denied he was blackmailed to convict the ex premier

ISLAMABAD: A senior Pakistani judge was sacked on Friday following a scandal over blackmail claims relating to the jailing of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges, the law ministry said.
The removal of accountability court judge Arshad Malik prompted immediate calls by Sharif’s PML-N party for the release of the 69-year-old former premier, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence.
“The decision against Nawaz Sharif should be dismissed and he should be released immediately,” party spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said, adding that Sharif’s conviction should be considered “void.”
Sharif was convicted and jailed last year after failing 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.
The PML-N has disputed the conviction and last week party leaders presented a video apparently showing Malik saying he had been pressured into ruling in favor of conviction by individuals with compromising footage against him.
Malik later issued a statement denying he had been blackmailed to convict Sharif and saying the video had been manipulated. He also declared in an affidavit he had been offered bribes followed by blackmail threats by figures close to Sharif to rule in favor of the former premier. The Sharif family denies the charge.
After days of growing pressure, Islamabad High Court asked the law ministry to remove him from his position.
“Judge Arshad Malik was asked to stop working on the basis of the alleged video and the press release,” Law Minister Farogh Naseem told a news conference.
The scandal adds to an already heated political climate in Pakistan where Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, which came to power last year vowing to root out corruption, has been facing increasing economic difficulties.
Earlier this month it agreed to a $6 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund, which has demanded a tough package of austerity measures.
As the problems have mounted, opposition parties have stepped up attacks, accusing the government and its allies in the military establishment of crushing dissent and orchestrating Sharif’s removal from power and conviction. The government and the military deny the charge.

Partnership with Pakistan can set science advance for Arab world – minister

Updated 11 min 50 sec ago

Partnership with Pakistan can set science advance for Arab world – minister

  • Islamabad and Riyadh have yet to cooperate in science
  • Pakistan can solve many of Saudi Arabia’s technology problems, says science minister

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s minister of science and technology on Thursday said his country’s expertise in the field of technology could benefit the Arab world, especially if a special technical partnership is forged with Saudi Arabia.

“I would like closer cooperation with the Arab world in science and technology,” Fawad Chaudry said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

He noted that while Pakistan and Saudi Arabia already cooperate on a large scale, scientific cooperation has yet to be established.

The former information minister, who eight months ago was assigned the science and technology portfolio and pledged breakthrough advancements said that Pakistan is the world’s fourth-largest freelance software exporter, “so instead of relying on Europe and USA for routine software, and pay huge money for that,” the Arab world should rather focus on Pakistan. “We will be able to bring your requirements, frankly much cheaper than what you are getting now, and the standard will be as good.”

“The Arab world can benefit immensely from Pakistan’s experience.”

When asked what cooperation he seeks with the Kingdom, he said: “Saudi Arabia can take care of the budgets. This technical cooperation of Pakistan will actually solve many of Saudi Arabia’s technology problems.”

Pakistan is engaged in multimillion-dollar worth projects under the Islamic Development Bank’s (IsDB) Science, Technology and Innovation Transform Fund, which aim to help Muslim countries find practical solutions to their key development challenges through the power of innovation.

“I hope that once that fund will be available, we will be able to help many other Muslim countries,” the minister said, explaining that Pakistan wants to contribute to the smart villages concept. “We would like to give this smart village experience to other Muslim countries, African Muslim nations, and the Middle East.”

Smart villages use innovative solutions to improve the resilience of rural communities through facilities such as sustainable energy services to enable their access to education, health care, better nutrition, and sanitation.

Highlighting his country’s technological advancements, the minister cited Pakistani-made unmanned aerial vehicles. He said that since drone technology in Pakistan is advanced as in Europe, “on the issues of surveillance, agriculture, and many other areas, we can immensely help the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia.”