- From Plane Hijacking Case, Hudaibiya Mills Reference to Air Marshal (r) Asghar Khan’s Case, Sharif family has evaded the judicial axe so far
ISLAMABAD: On February 23 the hearings of Panamagate Case concluded. Both the petitioners and respondents argued their stance before a five-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. The pivot around which the whole case revolved was disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over his alleged misstatement in his two addresses to the nation and a speech delivered in Parliament on May 16 last year.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami and Awami Muslim League had filed petitions with the Supreme Court making Nawaz Sharif, his children Maryam Nawaz, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz as well as Captain (r) Safdar, Ishaq Dar as respondents. Originally, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali-led bench heard the petitions. But after his retirement a new bench led by Justice Khosa resumed the proceedings from January 4 till the last week of February and reserved the judgment. No short order was issued either.
That was but the most recent encounter between Sharif family and the judiciary of Pakistan.
Pakistan Today took a trip down memory lane to recount the major events involving Sharif family and the judiciary over the past three decades.
Asgher Khan Case:
A petition was filed by Air Martial (r) Asgher Khan in which he alleged that donations by some businessmen of Karachi by consent of then Army Chief Mirza Aslam Baig and President Ghulam Ishaq Khan were disbursed among Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) prior to 1990’s elections for their campaign. According to the SC’s verdict Nawaz Sharif received 3.5 million rupees along with other big wigs. Furthermore, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, who authored the judgment, ordered FIA to investigate the matter in depth back in 2012, till to date no serious progress has been made. Last year, on July 13, 2016, Chaudhary Nisar questioned Federal Investigation Agency on the progress of the case in a high level meeting after the lapse of 4 years, since then the case has been relegated to limbo.
Although not the only beneficiary of funding by agencies, Nawaz Sharif surfaced as the PM in 1990’s election. The allegations, lately confirmed by SC judgment did little damage to his political clout and barely a dent was made in his vote bank in succeeding election of 2013 where he again managed to bag the premiership once again.
Hudaibiya Paper Mills Reference:
The infamous, Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was leased a new life during Panamagate hearing when the Ishaq Dar’s confessional statement given to a judicial magistrate, back in 2000, where he admitted of his involvement in laundering 14.86 million dollars on behalf of Sharif family became a sticking point as Bench asked Prosecutor General to present the whole record of the case. The Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference was quashed by Lahore High Court in 2014 and NAB didn’t file an appeal against the decision in Supreme Court. Interestingly, when Justice Khosa asked Chairman NAB, Qamar Zaman Chaudhary about his intention to file an appeal against the judgment, Mr. Chaudhary replied that he stands by Bureaus decision on not filing an appeal.
The Hudaibiya Paper Mills case is another example, where House of Sharif found a way around judicial process mainly on ground of technical basis and political arm-twisting of investigating authorities. The decision came after 14 years and despite mounting evidence the reference was quashed. Once again, Sharifs came out all clean and tidy. However, many observers believe that the Supreme Court may order NAB to file an appeal against the High Court in its Panamagate verdict.
Plane Hijacking Case:
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf on 12th October, 1999 and was tried for plane hijacking in Anti terrorism Court along with other co-accused. The Anti-terrorism Court of Karachi handed down a life imprisonment to him on April, 6, 2000 on count of hijacking and terrorism. However, under intense international pressure, General Musharraf pardoned him later on and PM Nawaz along with his family soon left for Saudi Arabia, where they stated for next 7 years before returning back in 2007.
After 9 years of pardon, an appeal was filed before Supreme Court. Justice Nadr-ul-Mulk led 5-member Supreme Court Bench absolved him of his role and quashed the very conviction handed down to him by the Anti-terrorism Court a decade back.
Supreme Court Attack:
Amidst a divided Higher Judiciary and Nawaz Sharif been summoned to the Court for contempt of Court proceedings by then chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah on November, 28 1997, the Supreme Court of Pakistan was attacked the very same day by a motley group of workers headed by PML-N’s political leadership. A mob of hundreds of PML-N workers entered the main building and courtrooms and damaged furniture and vandalise Court premises. Later on, in December of 2007, the very appointment of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was declared illegal and Justice Azmat Mian replaced him as 14th Chief Justice of Pakistan.