An accountability court was forced to adjourn the proceedings in a graft case against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar, after PML-N lawyers and supporters tried to forcibly enter the building and create mayhem.
Just as the accountability court judge, Justice Muhammad Bashir, entered his courtroom, a number of lawyers associated with the PML-N forced their way inside and surrounded the judge’s bench, loudly complaining that they had been manhandled by security forces outside the court and prevented from entering the courtroom.
The lawyers threatened to hold up the hearing until action was taken against the police officials who had allegedly manhandled them outside the court.
As a result of the chaos, Justice Bashir decided to prematurely halt court proceedings for the day and asked both defendants to leave the courtroom and return for a hearing on October 19.
Once PML-N supporters and lawyers found out that the hearing had been adjourned, the crowd dispersed.
Imran Khan accuses PML-N of attacking the judiciary
Reacting to the situation, Imran Khan sent out a torrent of tweets accusing PML-N of attacking Pakistan’s judiciary.
“Today the PMLN attacked Pakistan’s judiciary for the second time – today it was to protect the over Rs 30 b Sharifs’ loot stashed abroad,” he tweeted.
He also claimed that Ahsan Iqbal’s “drama” over Rangers’ deployment at the Judicial Complex “was to leave the NAB judge unprotected.”
“Clearly PMLN is hell-bent on destroying all state institutions. People of Pakistan must be prepared to stand up and defend our state institutions,” he added.
Ending his tirade, Khan said that the destruction of state institutions means the disintegration of the state.
He concluded, “This is the Sharif agenda which nation must counter.”
Interior ministry calls for detailed report of the incident
As she left the court, Maryam Nawaz spoke to media and asked the Interior Ministry to come up with a strategy to “keep such events from occurring in the future”.
Taking notice of the incident, the interior ministry asked Islamabad Police to compile a detailed report of the incident.
One male and one female lawyer, as well as two female police officers and one lady constable, were injured in the scuffle outside the accountability court.
The police has recorded statements from the three injured police personnel and will file a report.
While talking to the media, PML-N’s Talal Chaudhary dismissed reports that PML-N lawyers had tried to force their way into the court, saying: “PML-N workers did nothing, the incident happened due to overcrowding, that is it.”
Controversy has surrounded the security detail around the Judicial Complex since Oct 2, when Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal lashed out at Punjab Rangers for barring PML-N leaders, lawyers and supporters of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif from entering an accountability court.
In his statement to the media Iqbal had said that whoever had asked Rangers to secure the Judicial Complex had “challenged the writ of the government” and ordered a high-level enquiry into the incident.
At the time, it was said that neither the interior ministry, nor the chief commissioner had ordered Rangers to take up security of the Judicial Complex.
Following the episode the paramilitary force withdrew its personnel from Parliament House.
As a result of this, Iqbal had sought an explanation from the Punjab Rangers director general over the unilateral withdrawal of security from Parliament House, as well as the deployment at the Federal Judicial Complex during the hearing of references against Nawaz Sharif without being requested.
The Frontier Constabulary was ordered to take charge of security of the Parliament House following the unilateral withdrawal of Rangers personnel.
Days after the episode Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor defended the Rangers’ action and said that written orders were not issued on all occasions.
Commenting on Iqbal’s statement regarding “challenging the writ of the government” Ghafoor said, “A soldier who is deployed [somewhere] is doing his duty, and if he is told not to allow irrelevant people… it is possible [to consider] someone who does not have [credentials] as an irrelevant person”.
The report ordered to place responsibility of the Oct 2 incident has yet to be submitted to the interior ministry.
Accountability court proceedings
On Oct 9, the accountability court in Islamabad had observed that Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar would be indicted on Oct 13 (today).
It had also ordered NAB to initiate the process of declaring Sharif’s sons — Hassan and Hussain — proclaimed offenders, for consistently skipping court proceedings in the graft references pertaining to the Park Lane flats and the establishment of offshore companies.
NAB has given them 30 days (from Oct 11) to appear in court.
During her three-day stay in Lahore, Maryam did not visit her Jati Umra residence but stayed at her son-in-law’s home on The Mall.
She did not meet party workers from NA-120, many of whom were expecting her to meet them and congratulate her for her mother’s victory in the by-election.
On Thursday, Maryam had left for Islamabad from Lahore on a special plane to appear before the trial court, along with her husband, who has recently come under fire from several quarters, including his own party, for demanding that the government ban the Ahmadi community from government and military service.
Although National Accountability Bureau Deputy Prosecutor General Chaudhry Khaliquz Zaman had told Dawn that Sharif could not be indicted till he appeared in court, before today’s hearing, Sharif’s lawyer had claimed that he had the defendant’s permission to hear the court’s indictment verdict in his stead.