ISLAMABAD : Accountability Court judge Arshad Malik on Sunday refuted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) claim that he was blackmailed into jailing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, maintaining that the video revealed by the party as evidence was fake and it was in fact the PML-N leadership that tried to bribe and pressure him to rule in favour of its supreme leader.
In a press statement, the judge said his verdict against Nawaz was free of any bias and he had not acted under any sort of pressure.
“The video shown in Maryam Safdar’s press conference is contrary to facts and reality,” he said.
The judge mentioned in the statement that he was a resident of Rawalpindi and had served as a lawyer before becoming a judge. Nasir Butt, with whom Malik was seen talking with in the video, also belonged to the same city and was a long-time acquaintance of the judge, the statement added.
The judge said that he had held innumerable meetings with Nasir and his brother Abdullah Butt in the past, but snippets of his conversations with Nasir had been cut and merged to present them out-of-context.
“It was an attempt to discredit me and my judgments by piecing together snippets of conversations on different topics and at different times,” he said.
“Over the course of the hearings [of the Al-Azizia case], I was repeatedly offered bribes by people acting as representatives of the Sharif family. I remained unmoved and then they threatened me with dire consequences,” he added.
“Indirectly or directly, there neither was any pressure on me nor was there any element of greed. I convicted Nawaz Sharif on the basis of evidence in the Al-Azizia case and acquitted him in the Flagship case. If there had been any such thing, I would not have ruled against Nawaz in one case and in his favour in the other.”
The judge said Maryam’s press conference was an attempt to gain political mileage by maligning the judiciary. “My decisions were based on facts and the law. The press conference was just an attempt to make my decisions controversial for political gains. The videos are fake and based on lies. Legal action must be initiated against all individuals involved in this conspiracy.”
In response, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said the judge had no choice but to sign an “already-drafted” press release.
“To the honorable judge who passed a verdict against his conscience after being subjected to blackmailing and coercion: I can understand that you must have signed on an already-drafted press release under compulsion like the verdict. Thank you very much! You have attested the evidence by not denying the video. The rest to be revealed in Mandi Bahauddin…,” she tweeted.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb also said the judge had not denied the conversation recorded on tape.
“If he [Malik] faced pressure from the Sharifs’ camp, why didn’t he report it earlier? Why didn’t he report to the Supreme Court supervisory judge about the threats, bribes and blackmail?” she remarked.