FIA summons three PML-N leaders in judge video scandal

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LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under its new chief Wajid Zia became active against the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) on Monday and summoned its three main leaders in the video scandal of accountability court judge Arshad Malik who convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case.

Mr. Sharif’s close aide Senator Pervaiz Rashid and PML-N Punjab information secretary Azuma Bokhar have been summoned for Dec 30, and deputy secretary-general Attaullah Tarar for Dec 27 at the FIA’s Lahore office to record their statements.

In a notice, the FIA summoned them under section 160 CR.P.C in the FIR no 24/2019 of cybercrime. “FIA is conducting an investigation in the subject case and reportedly you are well aware of the facts and circumstances of this case. Therefore, you are directed to appear before the investigation officers at FIA zonal office-I on Temple Road Lahore on Dec 27 and Dec 30,” the notice to the PML-N leaders said.

Reacting sharply, a PML-N senior leader told Dawn that party’s apprehensions about Imran Khan’s move to appoint Wajid Zia as the FIA chief had proved true. “Former FIA head Bashir Memon had reportedly refused to follow PM Khan’s order to go after the PML-N leaders in false cases. On this, the premier sent him home and replaced him with a man of his choice to complete his unfinished business with the opposition leadership,” he alleged.

Wajid Zia was a star witness who had gathered evidence against Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers case that finally led his (Sharif) ouster from the office of the prime minister.

Attaullah Tarar told Dawn that he would appear before the FIA and record his statement. Earlier, the FIA had sent a questionnaire to the three, seeking their replies about their presence in the July 6 presser in Model Town where Maryam Nawaz released the purported video of judge Arshad Malik claiming that he (judge) confessed he had been “pressurized and blackmailed” to convict Nawaz Sharif (in the Al-Azizia reference). She had said that the video was made by a ‘PML-N sympathizer’.

When asked about the questionnaire, Mr. Tarar said he had submitted a reply to the FIA clarifying that he came to know about the (purported) video of the judge in question during the presser.

FIA Assistant Director Investigation Ijaz Ahmed Shiekh who issued the summons to the PML-N leaders was not available for comment.

Earlier, the FIA had arrested three suspects — Nasir Janjua, Maher Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf — in connection with the judge’s ‘immoral video’.

However, in early September last a civil judge had ordered their release on the FIA request for “the discharge of the accused” for being innocent.

The allegedly immoral video was used to pressurize and blackmail judge Malik to convict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference, according to the judge’s first purported video statement that was screened during the Maryam press conference.

According to the FIA report, which had been submitted before the Supreme Court, Shahbaz Sharif had expressed ignorance about the video, claiming that only Maryam Nawaz could give any clarification. Other PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, and Attaullah Tarrar also adopted a similar stance.

Significantly, Maryam, who had given a detailed narrative on the audio/video during her press conference, also attempted to disassociate herself from the details and specifics of the acquisition, origins, source, recording, dissemination, release and timing of the said audio/video (played on her instructions at the press conference with subtitles).

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