FIA raids PML-N secretariat in Lahore, claims party leader Ataullah Tarar

LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency on Thursday raided the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) party secretariat in Lahore, according to Ataullah Tarar, deputy secretary general of the party.

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A four-member FIA team, including a female officer, had conducted the raid, Tarar said, adding that the officials were allowed inside after they showed warrants. He said that the party had no prior information about the raid.

He said the raid was conducted to confiscate material related to a press conference conducted by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz.

In July, Maryam had held a press conference where she played a secretly recorded video in which former accountability judge Arshad Malik was allegedly seen saying that he was pressured into convicting former premier Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia corruption reference.

The FIA is yet to release a statement on the matter.

The PML-N, meanwhile, has decided to file a first information report against FIA Chief Wajid Zia, party spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said. A protest rally will also be held by the party tomorrow.

Talking to the media after the raid today, Tarar said that the government had been provided with the “original video” by Nasir Butt, the man in whom Malik had allegedly confided, but no forensic examination had been carried out.

The PML-N office-bearer insisted that the raid was part of “revenge tactics” by the government.

“Even the Supreme Court said that Arshad Malik had disgraced the judiciary […] How much has he been interrogated that now raids are being conducted at our party secretariat and we are being issued notices?” he asked.

“Nasir Butt went to the Pakistani High Commission in London, not once but many times, to submit the original video. But the high commission had directions from Imran Ahmed Niazi and the government not to receive the video,” Tarar alleged.

He said that the government had interfered in judge Malik’s removal as well, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to “spread confusion”.

“He (prime minister) wants to lock up his political opponents through revenge tactics. We will not let this happen,” the PML-N leader said.

Tarar said that the “circumstances” in which former FIA chief Bashir Memon had retired showed that “he had refused to obey Imran Ahmed Niazi’s illegal directions and was punished for it”, after which Wajid Zia was appointed to the position.

On August 23, the apex wrapped up a set of petitions on a video leak scandal involving judge Malik. The top court had held that the video clip of Arshad Malik would only benefit the former premier if it was properly produced before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a pending appeal against his conviction.

The video clip along with its transcripts, which was shown by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz in her media interaction in Lahore, had never been duly proved in accordance with the law, the order had said.

In his review petition, filed in October, Nawaz had contended that the audio or video recording was admissible under Article 164 of the Qanun-i-Shahadat Order (QSO), 1984. Additionally, the law did not impose any conditions that only evidence obtained through modern devices would be admissible which were recorded by persons whose part of routine duties was to record audio or video.

The petition highlighted that the appeal against the conviction of Nawaz under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, was pending before the IHC. Therefore, it added, the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction under any provision of the NAO or even otherwise to pre-empt the decision with respect to any manner that fell within the jurisdiction of the high court concerned in its appellate jurisdiction.

In an affidavit submitted to the IHC, Malik denied the contents of the video — which allegedly showed him admitting to a lack of evidence against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — and termed them edited, fabricated, and aimed to defame him.

The court had issued notices to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Raja Zafarul Haq, and others.

On a petition submitted by a citizen named Ishtiaq Ahmed, the top court took up the case. Ahmed appealed to the apex court for an independent judicial inquiry of the video scandal.

On July 12, judge Arshad Malik was relieved from his post by the federal government for his alleged involvement in the controversial video scandal.

Malik, in a letter written for IHC, claimed that Hussain Nawaz offered him a bribe, adding, “Nasir Janjua came to meet me and claimed that he had the cash equivalent of Rs 100 million in Euros for me immediately available out of which the Euro equivalent of Rs 20 million was laying in his car parked outside.”

He added, “I was told that Mian Sahib is willing to pay whatever I demand on acquitting him in both references. However, I declined the bribe offered to me while committing remains sticking to merits.”

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