ISLAMABAD  -  In an allusion to the ‘confession’ of the suspect who attacked Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the incident was the result of appeasing the Faizabad protesters.

“It [attack] is the result of distributing Rs1,000 each to the supporters of a religiously fanatic group,” he said on Monday while talking to the media outside the accountability court.

The suspect arrested immediately after the shooting has shown his affiliation with Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR), and initial investigation show he is a member of the religious organisation.

The suspect however did not say the group or any of its leaders had tasked him to target the minister, while the TLYR has condemned the attack stating that it believes in a peaceful struggle.

Though Nawaz also did not blame the organisation directly but he criticised the culture of religious violence it has bred over last few years.

Expressing his concern over the murder attempt on Ahsan, the PML-N ‘Quaid’ said it was not an ordinary issue that a sitting interior minister was targeted.

“If cash is distributed among such extremist elements, such results could not be ruled out. The people of Pakistan want to know why the cash was distributed among the religiously fanatic mob,” he remarked.

Led by a firebrand cleric, Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLYR spearheaded a weeks-long protest in November last year in Islamabad over the changes, pertaining to finality of prophethood, to an oath in the elections law.

The government called the changes a result of clerical error and the parliament had already undone those when the protest was held – almost a year after the issue surfaced.

After some violent episodes across the country, the protest at Faizabad interchange was called off after the army brokered an agreement, making the government to virtually surrender to the demands of demonstrators. The returning protesters were also handed cash by the army.

This making a mockery of the state and its authority invited criticism and the Supreme Court took a suo motu on the apparent illegality of the whole affair.

Commenting on security operations against terrorism and extremism, Nawaz Sharif said that the PPP government initiated the Swat operation which proved a milestone while the operation Zarb-e-Azb was started by the PML-N government and being the prime minister he had announced to start the operation against terrorism in the parliament.

The ex-PM also revealed that he had talked to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to do away with NAB law but “he [Abbasi] could not take a decision as everyone would think I want it so because of my case in the NAB”.

“The government will look into the NAB law once the accountability court handed down the judgment in my case,” he said.

“If the NAB [has] failed to find out any solid evidence against us, they should allow us to bring some new allegations against the Sharif family,” Nawaz said mockingly.

During last eight months of trial, the NAB has failed to find any solid evidence of corruption against them, he added.

He also said that the NAB case was nothing but a message for him.

 

On the appointment of Supreme Court judges, Sharif said that if lawyers have staged demonstrations against the appointment of the apex court judges, “this is their right”.

“It’s very painful that Chief Justice Saqib Nisar hands down judgments by striking down of the law,” he said.

Nawaz said it was necessary that the mechanism for the appointment of judges should be revamped. The mechanism of the Supreme Judicial Council should also be changed, he held.

“[In the current system] only the political leadership has to undergo accountability in the country,” the former prime minister said. After an election win in 2018, a new system [of accountability and judges’ appointment] will be introduced in the country.

He announced to transform the judges’ appointment system with the transformation of the Supreme Judicial Council.

The ousted PM said that the detractors of the PML-N, despite relentless attempts, have not been able to break the loyalty of the party parliamentarians.

 

Nawaz, while talking about the prevalent political and administrative culture, said that the people were the real owner of the country but they have been treated like tenants for the last 70 years.

“But now is the time to do away with it,” he said, expressing optimism that nation’s future was now bright and buoyant.

He said that the public had realised that they were the owner of the country and not tenants and from now onwards all the decisions will have to be made in the public interest.

The ousted premier also said that the people of Pakistan have rejected the July 28 judgment of Supreme Court that disqualified him.

 

 

Earlier, Sharif said that the chief justice should also take notice of the statement of the “chosen one”, Imran Khan, for his remarks about the 2013 general election.

 

 

Court hearing

Meanwhile, the ousted premier appeared before the NAB court in the Avenfield properties reference while Maryam Nawaz and Cap (r) Safdar submitted an application seeking exemption from the day’s hearing.

NAB Prosecutor and witness Imran Dogar informed the court that an inquiry report of the case was finalized on September 6, 2017. He also informed the court that he did not know who pinned additional pages in volume-4 of the JIT report and he has no information who added these pages and what was the date when these pages were added in the draft of the JIT report.

Dogar informed the court that the statement of Additional Director NAB Rana Muhammad Ali was not recorded. The entire investigation was made part of the record to the extent of allegations.

Dogar also said that according to the statement of Raja Akhtar, it was not in his knowledge who brought sealed pamphlets of Nelson, Nescol and Comber’s verified declaration.

He said that Raja Akhtar did not mention who brought reports of Robert Ridley from London to Pakistan.

During the course of the investigation, he did not get any receipt of any courier service, which shows receiving and dispatching of reports, said Dogar. He also informed the court about additional documents in volume-4 stating that as per index of volume-4, the total strength of pages was 240. Additional pages from 241 to 299 in hand-writing had been added which had not been included in the index of volume-4. And during the course of investigation, it was not found who, when and where these pages were added in volume-4, he said.

The hearing was adjourned till 11:30 am on Tuesday.

 

 

Attack on Ahsan result of ‘appeasing’ extremists