ISLAMABAD: Thrice-elected, thrice-deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday that a decision has already been made against him and the Supreme Court’s judgment on his review petition has a clear message for the accountability court – to find him guilty at all costs.
“A decision has already been made against me. [Judgment] has already been written,” Sharif said, while claiming that the trial court judge would not be the one passing judgment on him, rather the judgment would be coming from somewhere else.
While referring to the SC’s recent judgment, the deposed premier said that it was not a judgment but a clear message to the trial court that “Nawaz Sharif be punished at all costs”, adding that the language used in it was identical to that of his political rivals.
Answering a question, Sharif said that PTI chief Imran Khan was granted bail in four cases on Tuesday without being asked a single question, and yet his son in-law Captain (retd) Muhmmad Safdar was arrested from the airport and produced before the court in a manner reflecting that “our judicial system has double standards”.
The ousted PM reiterated that standards were different in his case and others’ cases. He added that he faced similar things after he was implicated in the plane hijacking case in 1999.
Amid Sharif’s anti-judiciary refrain, Accountability Court Judge Muhammad Bashir recorded the statements of two prosecution witnesses on Wednesday.
Sidra Mansur, the companies joint registrar at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), recorded her statement in the Flagship, Al Azizia, and Hill Metal references, while Federal Board of Revenue Lahore Inland Revenue Commissioner Jahangir Ahmed testified in the Flagship and Avenfield Apartments references.
The SECP official produced annual account audits of the companies’ long-term loans as well as records of Hudabiya Papers Mills for the period from 2000 to 2005.
That the documents were photocopies turned into a point of contention. After defence lawyers Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervez pointed out that the documents were not originals, a NAB prosecutor claimed that they were so. When Haris insisted, the court noted in the statement that the documents were photocopies.
“We are not fools and we will not be fooled,” Haris said, adding that witnesses had the right to amend their statements, but everything should be recorded.
During the cross examination, Sidra admitted that Sharif was not a director or a shareholder in Hudabiya Papers Mills at any point between 2000 and 2005. She also said that she had not prepared or signed the documents, nor were they prepared or signed in her presence.
While referring to a note attached along with the record, Pervez asked Sidra if NAB asked her to give any report or note along with the records, or simply asked for certified copies of the records. She said NAB did not ask for any note. Pervez also pointed out that the note was undated.
Meanwhile, Ahmed’s rambling answers ate into the court’s time. “The witness might discuss everything between heaven and earth if he is not posed with a specific question,” Judge Bashir remarked and directed a NAB prosecutor to ask questions so that he gives limited answer.
“Have you ever appeared before any court,” the judge enquired.
“This is my first time,” Ahmed replied, bringing brief smiles on several faces.
He also admitted in cross questioning that the record he had presented was not prepared, signed or certified by him or in his presence, and he had no knowledge of any litigation pending against Sharif pertaining to his income tax returns, wealth returns, or wealth statement. “I was deputed [to come to court] and just produce the record,” he said.
Meanwhile, the court granted an exemption from personal appearance to Nawaz Sharif for one week and to Maryam Nawaz for one month. Sharif’s exemption period would start from Nov 20.
Sharif and Maryam would be represented by their pleaders, Zaafir Khan and Barrister Jahangir Jadoon, respectively.
While arguing for the exemption, Haris said that Sharif wanted to be with his wife of 45 years as she battled cancer.
In Maryam’s application, Pervez stated that she had to travel to London from time to time and faced great difficulty while attending proceedings as a woman and a mother. He added that security agencies had told her to be cautious while appearing in public and her attendance was fraught with security hazards.
NAB opposed the applications but the court granted exemption.
Captain Safdar will be the lone defendant appearing in the court in person, while his wife and father-in-law head off to London.
The court still has to decide on declaring Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz proclaimed offenders. When asked, a court official informed reporters that the matter would be taken up along with the reference hearings on November 22.
The Sharifs came to court with the usual swarm of ministers and party loyalists, including Pervaiz Rashid, Tariq Fatemi, Asif Kirmani, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Daniyal Aziz, Talal Chaudhry, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Abid Sher Ali and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry.