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Sheikh Rasheed warns Opposition of Broadsheet scandal’s consequences

The Broadsheet LLC scandal and the government’s probe over the latest revelations in the case will put the Opposition in a “tough spot”, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said Friday, as he dismissed their objections to the government’s choice of committee head.

He was addressing a press conference in Karachi after PML-N “rejected” a probe panel established by the government, which is to be headed by former Supreme Court Justice Azmat Saeed.

The interior minister asked the Opposition that if they are against the appointment of Saeed, then would they rather have Malik Qayyum in his place.

Qayyum was appointed as a Lahore High Court judge on Oct 24, 1988, but resigned after the Supreme Court in April 2001 described his conduct as “biased” while deciding an appeal of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto against her conviction in a corruption case.

According to a Dawn report, the PPP had “released the transcript of a phone conversation indicating his collusion with the incumbent government” (PML-N) regarding a judgment in a case against Benazir.

The interior minister went on to say: “Azmat Saeed has read Panama JIT (Joint Investigation Team) report’s volume 10.”

Warning PML-N, he said that their properties worth Rs85-100 million could be uncovered in the probe being conducted by the government.

Moreover, the interior minister claimed that PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif, in 2000, had paid the National Accountability Bureau $7.5 million to get the watchdog off his back.

Earlier in the day, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal, in a statement, pointed out that Saeed was part of the bench in the Panama Papers case which disqualified Nawaz Sharif.

He was later invited to join the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital’s Board of Governors after his retirement by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Iqbal said.

The PML-N secretary-general also pointed out that during the Musharraf regime, when the asset recovery agreement was signed with Broadsheet, Justice Saeed had been part of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

According to the Supreme Court’s website, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed was deputy prosecutor general NAB at Islamabad in the year 2000 for a period of one year and was later appointed special prosecutor NAB in 2001 to prosecute cases before Accountability Courts at Attock Fort and Rawalpindi.

However, it is not clear if the retired judge had played a role, if any, in the formulation and signing of the asset recovery agreement and/or its eventual termination.

“Imran Khan wants to save himself and NAB by appointing Justice Azmat as head of the investigation panel,” Ahsan Iqbal said on the development.

Govt forms probe committee

On Thursday, the federal government had announced the constitution of an inquiry committee to probe the scandal after a ministerial committee presented its report to the Federal Cabinet.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Shibli Faraz confirmed the development, saying the former apex court judge would also be consulted on the appointment of other members of the Broadsheet probe committee.

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