Ousted Pakistan PM terms Panama-gate verdict ‘contempt of public mandate’

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2018
0

Ousted Pakistan PM terms Panama-gate verdict ‘contempt of public mandate’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers corruption case against him showed “contempt” for the public mandate.
Talking to reporters outside the court conducting corruption proceedings against him, he said that prominent lawyers and legal experts had described the case — and subsequent Supreme Court judgment — as weak.
“Now voices are being raised from inside and outside the Supreme Court,” he said. He was referring to remarks made by Justice Qazi Faiz Isa on Tuesday in the Supreme Court. Isa noted that although the Panama Papers case involved Sharif family’s London flats, the former premier was disqualified from office last year for holding a UAE iqama or residence permit.
Last month, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered that Nawaz Sharif be removed as head of the political party he founded, six months after the Supreme Court had disqualified him from office.
Now the three-times former prime minister has used the judge’s remarks to back up his claim that last year's Supreme Court verdict was flawed.
“I was disqualified for not taking a salary from my son,” he said. “The judgment is not right in my and the nation’s opinion.”
Sharif said that his disqualification from office was contempt of the people of Pakistan. “Where should these people go to file a contempt case?” he asked, challenging the judges to see whether the people accept their verdicts.
“There is a need to review why such judgments are delivered,” he said. Sharif added that such decisions resulted in “aftershocks” that were “impossible” to control.
However, senior advocate Sharafat Ali told Arab News: “A politician can try to build his political case on the basis of remarks of the judges, but, in reality, this will have zero impact on legal proceedings in the court of law.”
As for the Supreme Judicial Council, he said if the former premier filed a case against a Supreme Court judge it would have “serious political repercussions for his party.”
“Filing a complaint with the Supreme Judicial Council against any judge could turn into a movement against the ruling party (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the party Nawaz Sharif led), so they won’t be advised to do it,” he said.
“The best recourse available to Nawaz Sharif is to fight his cases in the courts, despite all the reservations,” he said.
Professor Tahir Malik, a political analyst, said Nawaz Sharif and his family could get rid of all corruption cases against them by producing documentary evidence to prove that they bought their foreign properties with legitimate money.
“Nawaz Sharif’s rhetoric against (the) judiciary will lose (its) appeal to the public if he fails to present evidence of his innocence anytime soon,” he told Arab News.


France’s Macron visits Trump as Iran nuclear deal hangs in balance

Updated 2 min 35 sec ago
0

France’s Macron visits Trump as Iran nuclear deal hangs in balance

WASHINGTON: French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Washington on Monday for a state visit likely to be dominated by differences over trade and the nuclear accord with Iran.
As Macron headed west, the Iranian government urged European leaders to convince US President Donald Trump not to tear up the 2015 deal between Tehran and six world powers. Allies also spoke out in support of it.
Macron said on Sunday there was no “Plan B” for keeping a lid on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
He is on something of a rescue mission for what is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Trump has said he will scrap unless European allies fix what he called “terrible flaws” by mid-May.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on European leaders to support it.
“It is either all or nothing. European leaders should encourage Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more important to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.
The deal reached between six powers — all of whom but Germany are nuclear-armed — and Tehran put curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Macron said on Fox News Sunday that it would be better to protect the deal instead of to get rid of it as there was no other plan.
“Is this agreement perfect and this JCPOA a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran? No. But for nuclear — what do you have? As a better option? I don’t see it,” he said.
Macron’s visit is the first time Trump has hosted a state visit since he took power in January 2017. While the French leader has tried to develop a close relationship with Trump since he took office in May, he has so far seen little tangible results on issues from Iran to climate politics.
The two men will get a sense of their two countries’ shared history during an evening meal on Monday night at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first US president and Revolutionary War commander whose alliance with France was critical to victory over the British.
Working meetings will be held at the White House on Tuesday before Macron addresses Congress the following day, the anniversary of the day that French General Charles de Gaulle addressed a Joint Session of Congress in 1960.
Trump and the 40-year-old French leader began their friendship a year ago in Belgium with a jaw-clenching handshake. While some other European leaders have kept a certain distance from Trump, Macron has worked hard to remain close to the US president and the two leaders speak frequently by phone.
Highlighting the difficulties Macron will face reversing Trump’s mind on Iran, US non-proliferation envoy Christopher Ford said Tehran presenteded a very real long-term challenge.
“Iran (is) a country that for years illegally and secretly sought to develop nuclear weapons, suspended its weaponization work only when confronted by the potentially direst of consequences without ever coming clean about its illicit endeavours,” he told a non-proliferation conference in Geneva.
Iran has long maintained that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes.
Macron also wants to persuade Trump to exempt European nations from metal tariffs that are part of the US president’s plan to reduce chronic trade deficits with countries around the world, chiefly China.
His visit comes at a time of mounting alarm in Europe over the knock-on effect that US sanctions on Russia will have on their own manufacturing industries.
French officials said Paris and other European governments were coordinating efforts to persuade Trump to ease sanctions on Russia, including measures against Russian aluminum producers.
“There are concerns raised by the extraterritoriality effects of the new sets of sanctions,” a French finance minstry source said. “Europeans...have jointly warned the US Administration about the economic impact and consequences and the need to find solutions.”
The official said France, Germany, Italy and Ireland were working together on the matter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks with Trump in Washington later in the week.
Macron and Trump are also due to discuss Syria, less than two weeks after the United States, France and Britain launched airstrikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens in Douma, Syria.
Macron said last week that he believed he had persuaded Trump to keep US troops in Syria, though Trump has been insistent on bringing them home.