In a battle that is bound to be nasty, and played out in public, the property magnate has decided to take on, not just Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, but the entire judiciary.
With a pocket-sized copy of the Holy Quran in his hand, an emotionally-charged Malik Riaz hurled serious, but contradictory charges against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and his son on Tuesday, on an issue that is sub judice, and in defiance of an apex court order to speak to the media.
His charges were cloaked, yet fierce, and cast a shadow over the integrity of the top judge of the country.
“The chief justice of Pakistan should tell the nation how many meetings he held with me in the darkness of night,” Riaz said, as he began his assault.
“Can he tell [the nation] about his meetings with the prime minister at the residence of Ahmed Khalil who is my partner in a project? And would the chief justice tell the nation how long he has known that Arsalan was blackmailing me?” Riaz added.
He did not, however, elaborate when the purported meetings took place, the purpose of these meetings or what transpired during them.
He did claim though that in some of the meetings he had with the chief justice, the incumbent registrar of the Supreme Court and Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, the chief justice’s son, were also present.
Meanwhile, during the meeting between the premier and the chief justice at the residence of Ahmed Khalil, another sitting judge was also present, Riaz added.
By now, Riaz had reached a crescendo.
“I am being pushed to the wall. Civil judges are being dictated orders against me. The chief justice has asked an FIA official to implicate me in a murder case. This judiciary is being run by a don,” he said.
He quickly added though: “I am not saying the chief justice is a don. Arsalan is a don. But I still respect the chief justice”.
Riaz said he knew the implications of what he was doing and was ready to go to jail or face contempt of court charges.
Asked if he had the backing of the president or some other institution, Riaz said he was not speaking at the behest of anyone else.
Questions for the CJP
He asked the chief justice to place the Holy Quran in front of himself and answer these three questions: “For how long have you [the chief justice] known the [Arsalan issue]? Why did you not take a suo motu then? Why did you take a suo motu only when the media broke the news?”
Promising to disclose more facts in ‘due time’, Riaz said: “I did not bribe anyone; I was being blackmailed.”
“Blackmailers were sent after me. Where should I go? Why was I being pushed into a blind alley?” he said.
Riaz added that a common friend went to the chief justice to tell him that his son is involved in wrongdoings, but the chief justice replied that “Malik Riaz is a blackmailer”.
Riaz said he wanted to speak inside the court but was not allowed to, during the proceedings.
“I did not go to buy justice from the court. Despite being blackmailed, I continued to bear all the troubles. I cannot see this country heading towards a collapse anymore. I have helped build it,” he said.
One on hand, Chaudhry Nisar has compelled me to wind up my business in Punjab, while on the other, they [chief justice et al] are pushing me into a blind alley, Riaz said.
He took another U-turn at the end, saying that the chief justice is innocent, and he respects him to this day.
He added that he wrote a book in 2007, during former president Pervez Musharraf’s regime, in favour of the chief justice, and “also offered him a bullet-proof vehicle for his safety.”
At the end, a perturbed Riaz left the press conference, without taking any further questions from journalists.
As a cliffhanger to the next episode, he added that he had disclosed what he had to, for today.
(Read: Father, son and Supreme Court)
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.