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Nawaz Sharif-Shahid Khaqan-Cyril Almeida denied allegations of high treason

23 October, 2018

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Former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and journalist Cyril Almeida Monday denied allegations of high treason made against them in a petition filed in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

As a three-judge bench headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi resumed hearing of the case, Nawaz, Abbasi and Almeida’s lawyers furnished their clients’ formal responses to the allegations made against them.

In the petition, Nawaz Sharif has been accused of treason for trying to defame the state institutions through an interview to Almeida. Abbasi has been accused of defying his oath of office by disclosing the minutes of a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting to Nawaz Sharif.

In his response to the petition, Nawaz termed the allegations levelled against him as ‘unimaginable’ and questioned how his ‘patriotism’ could be doubted in the light of his services to the country. “A grave allegation such as treason is unimaginable [for me],” he stated in his response. “This raises many questions in my mind. Are the millions of Pakistani people who made me the PM traitors too? Have the country’s institutions and agencies failed that they did not know of my treason. Is someone who rids the country of terrorism a traitor?” he asked in the written statement. “The country’s biggest court declared the measures of a dictator as unconstitutional, and asked a treason case to be filed against him. Where is that dictator now? He has been making a mockery of the judicial system for so long?” he said, and argued that the petition shows a complete lack of good faith and that has been filed only for political sensationalism, hence merits to be dismissed with exemplary costs.

In his response, Abbasi vehemently denied the allegations made against him by the petitioner, saying his meeting with Nawaz mentioned in the petition was purely concerning the issues relating to the PML-N and that matters of the NSC were not discussed in it. He said the allegations against him were ‘unfounded’ and based on ‘pure assumptions and surmises’, urging the court to dismiss those.

In his response, Almeida defended his interview with Nawaz Sharif, saying he had quoted the three-time former prime minister ‘verbatim’.

He said the contents of the interview were ‘written verbatim’ and that ‘no malice or ulterior motive’ can be attributed to him. Almeida denied that he was taken to Multan to interview Nawaz Sharif by a special airplane. “The petitioner’s unsubstantiated claims reek of malice and ill-will towards Almeida … they have knowingly led astray this Honourable Court from the facts […] to suit their own motives. The petitioner has taken one statement out of context while ignoring the entire news article, which includes rather important public interest statements and has to be read as a whole,” the written response by the journalist maintained.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Naqvi asked why didn’t Nawaz Sharif appear before the court. “Law is equal for everyone … if Nawaz Sharif intended to not attend the hearing, he should have submitted his exemption plea,” he remarked. Adjourning the case until November 12, the LHC bench directed all three respondents to ensure their presence on the next hearing.

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