New Delhi: One story, and its aftermath, has exploded across newspapers in Pakistan. Chatter on Twitter has ensured it trends through the day, and everyone who’s read it seems to have a point of view. It has former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, and tells why they may have been denied bail in July 2018 while Pakistan was conducting general elections.
The story in question claims how former chief justice Saqib Nisar ordered a high court judge not to give bail to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz before the 2018 general elections concluded.
The report has been written by Ansar Abbasi, a well-known investigative journalist with The News International.
Abbasi’s source is a signed and notarised affidavit of a witness, himself a former chief justice of the apex court of Gilgit Baltistan, who claimed to have been around when the order was given.
“Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must remain in jail until the general elections are over. On assurances from the other side, he (Saqib Nisar) became calm and happily demanded another cup of tea,” says the affidavit.
Sharif and his daughter were arrested on charges of corruption in July 2018, before the general elections later that month.
Dawn, in an editorial, called the revelation “explosive.”
The report was explosive enough to land Abbasi a contempt of court case within a week after the story was published. The Islamabad High Court took suo motu cognisance of the report and send Abbasi a show cause notice Tuesday.
What people are saying
Predictably, opposition leaders have jumped on the story.
Leader of Opposition and PML (N) leader Shehbaz Sharif said the story “peels off a thick layer of a grand scheme employed to target Nawaz Sharif & Maryam Nawaz. Allah has His own way of revealing the truth. It’s yet another vindication of Nawaz Sharif & Maryam in the court of public opinion. Alhumdulillah!”
Explosive news story by Ansar Abbasi peels off a thick layer of a grand scheme employed to target Nawaz Sharif & Maryam Nawaz. Allah has His own way of revealing the truth. It’s yet another vindication of Nawaz Sharif & Maryam in the court of public opinion. Alhumdulillah!
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) November 15, 2021
Abbasi, who has two million followers on Twitter, is no stranger to trolls and fans.
Even as #WeStandWithAnsarAbbasi trends, skeptics are calling him a Nawaz Sharif sympathizer.
Ansari Abbasi is a rook of Baighairat Sharif He is a hypocrite,who has no ethics sells his pen and his soul to the Satan SHARIFS . Disgusting his botched attempt to get the Judiciary and Ex Judges to fight. He is answerable to Allah & can't see anything good coming
— Zeenat Eva Khan (@EvaZeenat) November 15, 2021
Shame on you Ansar Abbasi as support of Criminal Nawaz Family. https://t.co/8DERpQ4NP5
— Ch.Nadeem Aziz (@ChNadeem) November 17, 2021
The most notable development of today’s proceedings in IHC was Ansar Abbasi got exposed. It transpired that all those sermons of piety and professional investigative journalist were no more than smoke screen to hide his real self of a corrupt & unprofessional in short a LIFFAFA.
— kashij (@kashij3) November 16, 2021
Many more stood in solidarity with the journalist, alleging the court of contempt case against him was a crackdown on freedom of press.
Would a journo/media org now be served contempt notice merely for filing a story! No wonder #Pak ranks 146 Press Freedom Index for such reasons. Stop persecuting journalists. Ansar Abbasi stands with his story and I, as a journalist,stand with Ansar Abbasi #JournalismIsNotACrime
— Gharidah Farooqi (@GFarooqi) November 16, 2021
Former Dawn columnist Cyril Almeida said of the matter — “Athar Minhallah has been a good judge, but he grossly overstepped the mark today – Ansar Abbasi reported a sensational story, now the judiciary is going after a v credible journalist to cover up its own sins…”
Athar Minhallah has been a good judge, but he grossly overstepped the mark today – Ansar Abbasi reported a sensational story, now the judiciary is going after a v credible journalist to cover up its own sins…
— cyril almeida (@cyalm) November 16, 2021
I stand with @AnsarAAbbasi
& every journalist must!
U can’t persecute a journalist on the content.The allegations came from a Chief Justice against a Chief Justice.If there was any contempt,the 3rd Chief Justice would have called them, not the journalist
— Shama Junejo (@ShamaJunejo) November 16, 2021
“The matter of the press reporting on the allegation should not be seen as contempt, as it is a function of reporting which is very much in the public interest…shouldn’t the judiciary be more concerned about the allegation itself, and whether it is fact or fiction?” said Dawn in its editorial.
“In the eyes of the public, the judiciary is the guarantor of justice and must be seen as such. Avoiding this probe will only amplify speculation and tarnish the reputation of the judges in question. To enjoy public confidence, the judiciary ought to probe the allegation and set the record straight,” it added.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)