Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from Islamabad, Chaudhry, who is a minister of state, slammed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry: “The Chief Justice of Pakistan has an agenda. And that is where anti-PPP forces gain strength from. It is very simple: Maulana Tahirul Qadri’s rally was thinning out, and that’s when he signed the order. Rumours were spread that the PM’s job was on the line. You must observe the timing. Why couldn’t he wait a day? Today, when the NAB presented its report in court, its prosecutor general told the Chief Justice that the court was interfering in the probe.”
Chaudhry made these remarks after National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman Fasih Bokhari told a a three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice that a report on corruption in rental power projects, submitted to the Supreme Court earlier, was inaccurate. Bokhari’s statement annoyed the court which directed him to submit all records of the investigation.
Two days ago, uncertainty gripped Pakistan after word spread that the Supreme Court had ordered Ashraf’s arrest in the rental power project case.
“The crisis has already been averted, actually there was no crisis for Prime Minister Ashraf. There was no Supreme Court order for his arrest. If you look at the order, nowhere does it mention that Raja Pervaiz Ashraf be arrested. One fails to understand how and where such vicious grapevine against our democratic government takes root and even thrives,” Chaudhry said.
A close look at the order makes it clear that no arrest was ordered. It states that Ashraf’s name appeared in an investigation report — he was water and power development minister until 2012 —filed under the supervision of a suspended NAB director general. It only says that if Ashraf or any of the 15 other accused try to leave the country, action can be taken against them.
“During the hearing, the court clearly demanded the case be investigated, a police report filed and if anyone is found guilty, he be arrested. Whereas what is appearing in the media across the world is in the reverse order. That’s legal illiteracy,” Chaudhry said, irritated over reports about Ashraf’s “imminent” and “immediate” arrest.
“For now, we are lying low and concentrating on our real job — of running the country and taking the PPP’s current term to its logical conclusion, which is the next general elections. The PM has called a meeting of the PPP’s allies and the election agenda is being discussed. Right now, we are looking at a date before May 6 for the elections but let us see what consensus emerges at the meeting today,” he said.