Pakistan Supreme Court orders action against judge in ex-PM Nawaz Sharif case

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered disciplinary action against a judge who convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif. (File/AFP)
Updated 23 August 2019

Pakistan Supreme Court orders action against judge in ex-PM Nawaz Sharif case

  • Sharif was convicted and jailed last year after failing to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia
  • An appeal against Sharif’s conviction is pending before the Islamabad High Court

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered disciplinary action against a judge who convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif, effectively giving a boost to Sharif’s appeal against a seven-year jail term for corruption.
Sharif was convicted and jailed last year after failing to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Under Pakistani law, that is taken as proof of corruption.
Sharif denied the charges that he said were politically motivated.
His party in July presented a video at a news conference apparently showing the judge who presided over Sharif’s conviction, Arshad Malik, as saying he had been pressured into handing down a guilty verdict by individuals he did not identify who had compromising footage of him.
Malik later issued a statement denying he had been blackmailed to convict Sharif and saying the video had been manipulated.
Malik had already been removed from his position in an anti-corruption court and the Supreme Court on Friday ordered him to report back to the High Court in the city of Lahore.
“We expect that after his repatriation appropriate departmental disciplinary proceedings shall be initiated against him,” the Supreme Court said in an order.
The court said Malik’s “stinking conduct” in connection with the video scandal was abhorrent, and an appeals court should decide whether to consider it as evidence for any relief for Sharif.
An appeal against Sharif’s conviction is pending before the Islamabad High Court. The Supreme Court said that was the proper forum to evaluate the video scandal.


EU leaders split over $1.2 trillion post-Brexit budget

Updated 18 October 2019

EU leaders split over $1.2 trillion post-Brexit budget

  • Under a proposal prepared by Finland, the next long-term budget should have a financial capacity between 1.03% and 1.08% of the EU GNI, a measure of output
  • After the meeting, some EU leaders and officials described the talks as difficult

BRUSSELS: European Union leaders discussed a new budget plan on Friday that could allow the EU to spend up to 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) in the 2021-2027 period, but deep divisions among governments may block a deal for months.
Under a proposal prepared by Finland, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, the next long-term budget should have a financial capacity between 1.03% and 1.08% of the EU gross national income (GNI), a measure of output.
That would allow the EU to spend 1 trillion to 1.1 trillion euros for seven years in its first budget after the departure of Britain, one of the top contributors to EU coffers.
After the meeting, some EU leaders and officials described the talks as difficult.
The Finnish document, seen by Reuters, is less ambitious than proposals put forward by the European Commission, the EU executive, which is seeking a budget worth 1.1% of GNI. The EU parliament called for an even bigger budget, 1.3% of GNI.
But the Finnish proposal moves beyond a 1% cap set by Germany, the largest EU economy. And it has displeased most of the 27 EU states, EU officials said, suggesting long negotiations before a compromise can be reached.
Talks on budgets are usually among the most divisive in an EU increasingly prone to quarrels. The member states are deeply split over economic policies, financial reforms and how to handle migrants.

DEEP SPLIT
The Finnish proposal, which cuts spending on farmers and poorer regions, has managed to unite the divided EU leaders in their criticism.
“The text has caused nearly unanimous dissatisfaction,” a diplomat involved in the talks said.
New, expensive policies, such as protecting its borders and increasing social security, have been enacted, but states are reluctant to pay more.
Germany and other Nordic supporters of a smaller budget argue that because of Brexit, they would pay more into the EU even with a 1% cap because they would need to compensate for the loss of Britain.
Eastern and southern states, who benefit from EU funds on poorer regions and agriculture, want a bigger budget and are not happy with Finland’s proposed cuts on these sectors.
Under the proposal, subsidies to poor regions would drop to less than 30% of the budget from 34% now. Aid to farmers would fall to slightly more than 30% from over 35% of the total.
To complicate matters, the new budget should also include rules that would suspend funding to member states with rule-of-law shortcomings, such as limits on media freedom or curbs on the independence of judges.
This is irking states like Poland and Hungary, which Brussels has accused of breaches in the rule of law after judiciary and media reforms adopted by their right-wing governments.
Friday’s meeting was not supposed to find a compromise, but divisions are so deep that many officials fear a deal may not be reached by a self-imposed December deadline. A later deal would delay the launch of spending programs.
The Finns remained confident, however, and insist their suggested spending range would eventually be backed by EU states. “The fact that almost everybody is against our text shows we have put forward a fair proposal,” one diplomat said.