Islamabad, August 29
Pakistan’s former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday slammed Supreme Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial for “favouring” Imran Khan, saying his messages to the lower courts led to the suspension of the sentence of the former premier and called the verdict a “dark chapter” in the country’s history.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday suspended Khan’s three-year sentence in the Toshakhana corruption case and ordered his release from jail, in a major relief to the former Pakistan prime minister.
Taking to microblogging site X, formerly Twitter, Sharif said that the IHC had been influenced by the Supreme Court’s leniency toward the PTI chief.
Taking an indirect jibe at Khan, Sharif said, “The ‘favourite’s’ sentence has been suspended, not terminated.”
“Chief Justice’s message of “Good to see you” and “Wishing you good luck” reached Islamabad High Court. If everyone knows what the decision will be before the decision comes, it should be a moment of concern for the justice system,” the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President said, slamming the court for suspending Khan’s sentence.
The former premier further said that when a “clear message” was received from the higher judiciary, the subordinate court would follow suit.
On Wednesday, the apex court, after hearing various petitions against the Toshakhana case, observed that there were “shortcomings” in the judgment of the sessions court.
The panel observed that the verdict was given in haste and without giving the right of defence to the accused. “Prima facie, there are shortcomings in the trial court verdict,” the chief justice said.
The Supreme Court had also stated it would wait for the IHC hearing before giving its judgment. It resumed the hearing Thursday but adjourned it without fixing any date after it was told that the IHC was holding a hearing.
Asking why lenience was not extended to his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif said, “A monitoring judge was appointed to ensure Nawaz Sharif’s punishment, (and now) the chief justice himself (has become) a monitoring judge to save the ‘favourite’.”
“This role of the justice system will be written as the dark chapter of history. Scales tilted to one side, and a justice system that undermines justice are not acceptable,” he said, adding that the law was powerless before those who “sold the watches”.
According to the details of an official inquiry, Khan allegedly earned Rs 36 million by illegally selling three watches gifted to him by foreign dignitaries to a local watch dealer during his tenure as prime minister.
“If thieves and state terrorists are facilitated, where will the common man get justice in the country?” Sharif asked.
Alleging undue leniency by the country’s courts to Khan, Sharif said, “Be it May 9, be it an attack on the judicial complex, be it raining petrol bombs on the police, everything is forgiven.”