ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif expressed on Tuesday that “censorship is imposed when logic and argument end”, adding previously military dictators used to impose censorship, but now the chief justice of Pakistan “is doing the same”.
“[Justice] Saqib Nisar Sb, where are you heading and in which direction are you taking this country?” the ousted PM asked.
Launching another round of criticism at the top judge of the country, Sharif said “The judiciary has always provided relief from restrictions put in place by dictators; however, the current judiciary places ‘unprecedented’ restrictions.”
The three-time former prime minister was sharing his views with journalists in and outside the accountability court while attending hearing in connection with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’s references filed against members of the Sharif family.
Inside the courtroom, while responding to NAB’s move to open inquiry against him in connection with the appointment of former Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairman, Sharif said NAB should also hold an inquiry how the incumbent chief justice was appointed by him as law secretary, who later became a judge.
He said it was up to the prosecution to prove corruption charges on the Sharif family.
Moreover, the ousted prime minister said he had reservations on NAB laws but he couldn’t do anything about it.
Subsequently, he said, there was a dire need to enact judicial reforms in the country and added that the whole nation supported the demand.
Outside the courtroom, Sharif apprehended that his talk may not be aired or published but he preferred exercising his fundamental and constitutional rights to express his views. He said that he holds the right to voice his opinion.
Sharif reminded the chief justice that everything is being registered and he [CJP] will have to answer for all the things one day and that day is not far away as people would demand answer for those things.
“This is the 21st century. Freedom of expression can’t be suppressed. One can’t be silenced and if one still believes that it can happen, then it is like closing eyes like a pigeon,” he said.
“You [CJP] can say whatever you want but when the other side says something you put censorship,” Sharif said, adding one should not expect that the other side would not respond.
“The response would definitely come. Not only from me but the 22 million people of the country,” he said.
“We are not ready to accept any kind of bans.”
Sharif urged the chief justice to “please, focus on your work. Mind your own business. Let bureaucracy and politicians do their job”.
He said the chief justice should concentrate on his own work as it is not his duty to interfere in the administrative affairs.
He reminded the chief justice that he should be looking into the subordinate judiciary and see if the poor people getting justice or not as, apparently, people are forced to sell their properties for getting justice. “Even then, they are unable to get it.”
“Leaving your own work aside, you are visiting milk-yoghurt shops, going to hospitals to check standards of medicine. You should do your own work and let others do theirs,” Sharif said.
Meanwhile, the counsel for Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Safdar, Amjad Pervaiz, concluded his cross examination on the NAB’s Director General (DG) Zahir Shah in the Avenfield Apartments reference.
The witness has been appearing before the accountability court for recording his statement and for cross examination in the Avenfield Apartments and Flagship references.
On Monday, he produced several documents pertaining to the official copy of registry of title, water utilities bills, Westminster City Council record and house record among several other things pertaining to the Avenfield Apartments before the court.
Through the questions, Pervaiz tried to establish on Tuesday that the documents Shah received were not in response to a Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request sent on May 27, 2017, by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the Panamagate scandal but came in response to Shah’s letter dated October 31, 2017.
During cross examination, it also emerged that the documents pertaining to the Avenfield Apartments are not stamped and certified by the UK’s central authority.
Also, Shah accepted that there was no notification stating that he was authorised by the federal government under Section 21 of the NAB Ordinance, 1999, for the correspondence with the UK authorities.
On Tuesday, he recorded his statement in the Flagship reference and produced annual returns, memorandum of articles, statements of the directors and shareholders and land registry pertaining to land in the name of Flagship and other companies.
Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris conducted partial cross examination in the Flagship reference and would resume it on April 25 (today).