Audio clip has former CJP allegedly admitting that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were convicted to bring Imran Khan to power
Former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar on Sunday described as “fake” a leaked audio clip of him allegedly acknowledging that the decision to disqualify former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was “imposed” by “friends.”
“I have just listened to this audio … [it is] fake, which has been attributed to me,” he told a private broadcaster after the leaked clip went viral on social media, with users demanding an independent probe to determine its authenticity.
On Sunday, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Noorani, in a story for web portal FactFocus, reported that the former chief justice had instructed subordinates to ensure that Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz, were not allowed to go free. Nisar, speaking to an unidentified individual, also admits the decision was motivated by “institutions”—often a reference to Pakistan’s security establishment—wanting incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan to come to power.
“Let me be a little blunt about it. Unfortunately, here it is the ‘institutions’ which dictate judgments. In this case, we will have to penalize Mian Sahib [Nawaz Sharif],” he says in the audio clip. “And ‘they’ say ‘we shall bring Khan Sahib.’ Regardless of the merit, we will have to do it, and even to his daughter [Maryam],” he added.
The second person in the call, whose identity has yet to be divulged, questions the validity of sentencing Maryam, claiming her case does not hold up to scrutiny. “You are absolutely correct,” responds the voice alleged to be that of Nisar. “I did talk to ‘friends’ that something be done about this but they did not agree. There will be no independence of the judiciary, so let it be,” he adds.
According to FactFocus, it obtained the audio roughly two months earlier and had gotten it examined by Garret Discovery, an American firm specializing in multimedia forensics. “The firm’s analysis report certifies the integrity of the audio file and states that ‘this audio has not been edited in any way’,” it says. While the report acknowledges that it is unclear when the clip was recorded, it notes that the content suggests it is from around when the Sharifs were under trial before Accountability Courts in July 2018.
In a statement to the web portal, the former CJP reiterated that he had never contacted any accountability court judge to secure a verdict against Nawaz Sharif or Maryam. “Why I would do that,” he said to FactFocus. “I have no grudges against Mian Nawaz Sharif,” he said, adding no one from the Pakistan Army or Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, had ever pressured him for this.
Government ministers have already started to toe Nisar’s line and allege that the audio clip is “fake” without any independent investigation. The PMLN, meanwhile, has hailed the development as further validation that Sharif and his daughter were politically victimized.
In a posting on Twitter, PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz merely said: “Allah is the greatest.” PMLN spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, meanwhile, stressed that the audio clip had been forensically authenticated by a U.S. firm.
This is the second time in a week that former CJP Nisar has made headlines in Pakistan. Last week, former Gilgit-Baltistan chief justice Rana Shamim, in an affidavit, had accused Nisar of “keeping Sharif and his daughter in prison till the 2018 general elections.” The declaration had drawn the ire of the Islamabad High Court, which issued contempt notices to Shamim, as well as daily The News for publishing his narrative.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had alleged that the affidavit “damaged” public confidence in the judiciary and issued show-cause notices to all respondents for the next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 26.