News Analysis |
Islamabad, 13 Oct – The eyewitness accounts from TV reporters and sources reaching GVS indicate that harassment tactics employed by PMLN leaders, on Friday, to intimidate the Accountability Court hearing references against Sharif family, looked preplanned and closely resemble the strategy behind the attack on Supreme Court of Pakistan in November of 1997.
Reporters and other sources describe that scenes of rowdiness created inside and outside the court were all lead by lawyers of “Noon League Lawyers Forum” (PMLN Lawyers Forum) in which officeholders and prominent members of PMLN Legal Forum like Jehangir Jadoon, Naeem Gujjar, Siddiq Awan and Raheel Yousafzai were seen taking lead.
What happened in the Supreme court in 1997
In Nov 1997, PMLN leaders and workers had attacked the Supreme Court, while a case was being heard against Nawaz Sharif who was then Prime Minister and was at loggerheads with the then Chief Justice, Sajjad Ali Shah and President Farooq Khan Leghari. Judges had to run for their lives, in an atmosphere of intimidation court case ended up in frustration and ultimately Chief Justice and President had to resign.
Political Analysts argue that this appeared like an attempt to threaten sectarian violence on streets of Punjab in order to frighten Army to extract a deal from the corruption cases
Several months later, some minions, including Ptv Anchor Tariq Aziz, were given light punishments, however political insiders, like Chaudry Shujaat Hussain (then interior minister) and Guhar Ayub Khan, had later insisted that the plan to attack Supreme Court was ordered by none other than Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif.
What happened today in the National Accountability court
Exactly twenty years later, its again Nawaz Sharif, his sons and daughter who are facing these corruption cases in references filed by Supreme Court – and political climate is fast becoming the same. Three weeks of court proceedings have failed to even indict the accused of Sharif family.
Earlier today, Police officers were roughed up by PMLN lawyers and a senior Police Officer was slapped outside the court. It’s not clear, as of now, if Islamabad Police has registered a FIR, or made any arrests against these lawyers. Jehangir Jadoon, a prominent office holder of Noon League Lawyers Forum, was found shouting inside the court, after the arrival of Judge Mohammad Bashir, that “we won’t let the proceedings take place”.
Maryam Nawaz and her husband, Capt. Safdar was to be indicated today. On Oct 9, the honorable judge had announced that Nawaz Sharif, even if he does not turn up, will be indicted today. However Nawaz Sharif stayed back in London, and it’s not clear if he will turn up on next hearing on Oct 19.
جو انتشار نواز شریف اور مریم نواز اداروں کیخلاف پھیلا رہے ہے آج اس کا عملی مظاہرہ احتساب عدالت میں نظر آیاpic.twitter.com/djAvqzqqkN
— Farrukh Habib (@FarrukhHabibISF) October 13, 2017
Earlier, in the morning, PMLN lawyers more than 50, tried barging into the court. Police stopped them pointing out that only lawyers on the court list can be allowed inside. However, PMLN lawyers asserted that they have an order from Islamabad High Court that says that “lawyers cannot be stopped from going inside the court”. Accountability court inside the Islamabad Judicial Complex, being a specialized court, is very small and has only 18 seats, and it can barely accommodate 30-32 people even if standing is allowed, sources point out.
Read more: Nawaz’s doomsday politics
Emotional speeches of Ahsan Iqbal, interior minister and Talal Chaudhry, state minister of Interior, against Rangers and military establishment on point of “Civilian Supremacy” were supported by country’s English papers
Police officers pointed out to the PMLN lawyers that inside of the courtroom is jam-packed due to lawyers and security of Maryam Nawaz, lawyers and staff of NAB and court. There were around 10 members of NAB and prosecution inside the court, reporters pointed out. However, PMLN lawyers shouted that “we are here to support our leaders and lawyers cannot be stopped from going inside the court”. This standoff lead to scenes of rowdyism and police had to baton charge the crowds in which a lawyer was injured.
When Judge, Mohammad Bashir, arrived, PMLN lawyers protested to him about Police action, asked him to take action against the Police. He asked lawyers to file a written application but lawyers demanded that he should first call Police officers inside the court and launch a formal inquiry into the matter.
This standoff persisted without resolution and Judge, after a while, being under pressure, took away his papers and left the courtroom for his chambers. All during this commotion, Maryam Nawaz, and Capt. Safdar, seated inside the court, silently watched this drama. A judge later ordered an Inquiry by IGP Police Islamabad into today’s rowdiness.
Read more: PTI to NAB Chief: ‘Act before we do’
Are we any closer to the end of the indictment process?
Its now understood that the proceedings in the Accountability Court, are gradually moving towards a dead end – and it reflects a well thought out political strategy. Though first hearing took place on Sept 26, to this day no one from Sharif family could be indicted.
Police officers pointed out to the PMLN lawyers that inside of the courtroom is jam-packed due to lawyers and security of Maryam Nawaz, lawyers and staff of NAB and court. There were around 10 members of NAB and prosecution inside the court, reporters pointed out
On his first hearing, (Sept 26) Nawaz Sharif appeared for five minutes, proceedings could not take place due to scenes of rowdyism and sloganeering against the judge inside the courtroom. On the second hearing on Oct 2, Rangers were called to protect the court, but when they stopped unauthorized lawyers and PMLN ministers, it was turned by the ministers and PM Khakkan Abbassi into a Civil-Military issue.
Emotional speeches of Ahsan Iqbal, interior minister and Talal Chaudhry, state minister of Interior, against Rangers and military establishment on point of “Civilian Supremacy” were supported by country’s English papers and large parts of media aligned with the PMLN government. However, today’s intimidation of police, prosecution, and judge by PMLN lawyers makes it clear that getting rid of Rangers was part of the strategy to browbeat the court into submission.
Pml n ka court mein hangama arai. Ab samajh mein aya logoon ko key rangers tayunati par itna aiteraz kiyoon tha
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) October 13, 2017
On third hearing, Oct 9, Nawaz Sharif, who was set to be indicted was sitting in London without court permission. Maryam and Capt. Safdar appeared but could not be indicted since they had to be first given charge sheet. Later Capt. Safdar went to parliament and made incendiary speeches inflaming hatred and contempt against Ahmedia minority. He demanded that a resolution is brought into parliament to ban entry of Ahmedis into Pakistan Army. Political Analysts argue that this appeared like an attempt to threaten sectarian violence on streets of Punjab in order to frighten Army to extract a deal from the corruption cases.
Read more: Nawaz wants Martial Law: Zardari
Today’s repeat scenes of rowdyism, practically supported by key government ministers, now make it clear that unless the Supervisory Judge of Supreme Court, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, can come up with some strategy to protect the Accountability Court from these intimidation tactics, these corruption cases will not proceed. Supreme Court in its July 28 decision had ordered NAB to complete proceedings in six months and had appointed a Supervisory Judge.