Nawaz says judiciary has placed ‘unprecedented’ restrictions


–Deposed PM says NAB should stop behaving as if martial law is in place


ISLAMABAD: Deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday launched another scathing attack on Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, saying the judiciary has always provided relief from restrictions put in place by dictators, however, the current judiciary has placed ‘unprecedented’ restrictions.

Speaking informally with the media after appearing in the accountability court in connection with the Avenfield reference hearing, Nawaz said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should stop behaving as if a martial law is in place. Nawaz added that he is sure that his remarks will be censored and not aired on TV channels, but as a citizen of the country, he holds the right to voice his opinion.

The former premier also said that the Musharraf era “black law” needs to be scrapped, and the people and the civil society agree that the judiciary should be reformed.

The PML-N supreme leader also claimed that there is no evidence of multiple cases he is under trial for. “Allegations of millions and billions of rupees are levelled against us, but not a single allegation has been proven to date,” he added. “We didn’t purchase the London flats from the national treasury, if they claim we obtained assets through corruption, then it should be made clarified and lacking proof of corruption, this matter should be closed,” Nawaz concluded.

On Monday, the former prime minister had said that recent actions by the top judiciary indicate that a regime worse than a martial law has been imposed across Pakistan.

“What is prevalent in the country is not democracy, but the worst kind of dictatorship under [Chief Justice Mian] Saqib Nisar,” he said while speaking to reporters inside the accountability court. He also referred to recent hurdles faced by a protest movement and media organisations.

“What is happening in the country is not less than a ‘judicial martial law’,” said the former PM, who returned from London late on Sunday.

“In my political life, I have never seen such restrictions on media and freedom of speech,” he added. Nawaz then quoted former president Idi Amin of Uganda and said, “I can guarantee freedom of speech but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.”

“There should be no hurdles in the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement’s (PTM) rallies, it’s wrong to stop them from rallying, it’s their right,” he said referring to the protest movement.

Criticising recent judgements by the courts as “illogical”, Nawaz said the alleged silencing of 220 million people of Pakistan would not be acceptable to him. “These many restrictions were not even imposed during the martial laws that we are seeing today,” he remarked.

The deposed PM said that nobody has accepted judgements against him, even the petitioners, including Imran Khan, adding that prominent lawyers have termed the decision as weak.

Referring to his disqualifications, the three-time prime minister asked how “they will answer to history”? “Current judgments are weaker than those of Justice Munir.”

The Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo claimed that serious efforts are being made to convict him in the corruption references being heard by the accountability court, which he said were an attempt “to make the five judges successful” — a reference to the five-member SC bench which had disqualified him last year in the Panama Papers case.

“The reason for this is plain and simple – so that the five judges of the apex court can save face, and save themselves from embarrassment,” Nawaz alleged.

Directing his criticism at the CJP once again, Nawaz said that Justice Nisar visits hospitals regularly and talks about vegetable prices, but “he should also visit the home of an oppressed person whose case hasn’t been decided for 20 years”.

“He [CJP] should know the rates of potatoes and tomatoes, how much the public buses cost, the state of hospitals and the price of medications, but he should turn his attention to the scores of pending cases,” he added.

“It is not your job to summon the chief minister and make the government stand in the line,” he said, addressing the CJP.