Top court rules judge video legally useless for Nawaz Sharif unless proven genuine

In this file photo, Maryam Nawaz, left, daughter of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, speaks as Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif (R) looks on during a press conference in Lahore on July 6, 2019. She alleged at the presser that Arshad Malik, the accountability judge who jailed Sharif for seven years over graft, had done so under duress. (AFP)
Updated 23 August 2019

Top court rules judge video legally useless for Nawaz Sharif unless proven genuine

  • Supreme Court says corruption verdict against jailed ex-PM can be sent for “re-deciding” if video proven authentic
  • Says accountability judge’s “sordid” conduct had brought disrepute to entire Pakistani judiciary

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a leaked video of a former accountability court judge sacked over a scandal relating to the jailing of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges was of no legal use unless established to be a genuine piece of evidence in a court of law.
At a press conference flanked by senior leaders of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party last month, the leader’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, showed clips of a video of a meeting between accountability judge Arshad Malik and PMLN leader Nasir Butt in which the judge, Maryam alleged, had confessed that he was forced to issue an “unjust” verdict against Sharif by ‘people’ who blackmailed him with a “personal video.” 
The video of Malik’s conversation with Butt was ostensibly filmed in secret, without his permission. 
Last year, Sharif was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $25 million on corruption charges by Judge Malik who ruled that the three-time prime minister was unable to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of the Al-Azizia steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Under Pakistani law, this is taken to prove corruption. On the same day, Malik acquitted Sharif in a second case relating to Flagship Investments, a company established by his son, Hasan Nawaz, that owns luxury properties in Britain.
“The relevant video cannot be of any legal benefit to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif unless it is properly produced before the Islamabad High Court … [and] its genuineness is established and then the same is proved in accordance with the law for it to be treated as evidence in the case,” the top court ruled on Friday. 
The Supreme Court also listed at least 21 requirements for the leaked video to be proved a genuine piece of evidence before the Islamabad High Court, where Sharif’s appeal against the Al-Azizia verdict is pending adjudication.
The court said that if the video was proved to be genuine through a legal process, the Islamabad High Court could either “reappraise the evidence itself” or remand the case to the trial court for “re-deciding.”
“We find that it may not be an appropriate stage for this court to interfere in the matter of the relevant video and its effects,” the court ruled.
In Friday’s ruling, the Supreme Court also admonished the sacked accountability judge, saying “his sordid and disgusting conduct has made thousands of honest, upright, fair and proper judges in the country hang their heads in shame.” The court added that the Lahore High Court should initiate disciplinary proceedings against Malik.
Malik denies all charges and says representatives of the Sharif family had offered him bribes repeatedly to rule in the former prime minister’s favor and also threatened him but he did not oblige. The Sharif family denies the accusations. 


EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

Updated 01 July 2020

EU safety agency suspends Pakistani airlines’ European authorization

  • The step has been taken due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards
  • PIA expects the ‘earliest possible’ lifting of suspension after action by the government and the airline

ISLAMABAD: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) authorization to fly to the bloc for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, in a major blow to the country’s flag carrier.
Separately, the safety agency said it took the action due to concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards at all times.
The suspension follows Pakistan’s grounding of 262 of the country’s 860 pilots — including 141 of PIA’s 434 — whose licenses the aviation minister termed “dubious.”
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA’s authorization to operate to the EU member states for a period of six months effective July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal,” PIA said in a statement. It added it would temporarily discontinue all its flights to Europe.
Confirming the move in an emailed statement, the EASA referred to a recent investigation by Pakistan which it said showed a “large share” of pilot licenses to be invalid.
Pakistan’s grounding of the pilots followed a preliminary report on a PIA crash in Karachi that killed 97 people last month.
PIA said it is in contact with the EASA to take corrective measures and appeal against the decision, adding that it expected the “earliest possible” lifting of the suspension after action by the government and the airline.
The EASA also suspended the authorization of another Pakistani airline, Vision Air International.
Vision Air International did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Following the EASA’s decision, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it, too, was withdrawing PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports, as required under law.
“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports are suspended with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the UK authority told Reuters.
The three were major flying destinations for the airline.
Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots and their union, the Pakistan Airlines Pilots Association (PALPA), say there are discrepancies in the government’s list of pilots with licenses deemed dubious and are demanding a judicial investigation.
PIA and private airline Air Blue have also queried the list with PIA saying 36 of its pilots mentioned had either retired or left the airline, while Air Blue said it no longer employed seven of nine pilots on the list.
“It contains names of highly educated and qualified pilots who have passed all the tests,” PALPA’s president, Chaudhry Salman, told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this matter.”
An official at Pakistan’s aviation ministry, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, said they did not have full details of the discrepancies. “The issue is being sorted out in consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”