A senior Pakistani judge was sacked on Friday following a scandal over blackmail claims relating to the jailing of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges, the Pakistani Ministry of Law and Justice said.
The removal of accountability court judge Arshad Malik prompted immediate calls by Sharif’s PML-N party for the release of the 69-year-old former leader, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence.
“The decision against Nawaz Sharif should be dismissed and he should be released immediately,” party spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said, adding that Sharif’s conviction should be considered “void.”
Sharif was convicted and jailed last year after failing to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia. Under Pakistani law, this is taken to prove corruption.
The PML-N has disputed the conviction and last week party leaders presented a video apparently showing Malik saying he had been pressured into ruling in favor of conviction by individuals with compromising footage against him.
Malik later issued a statement denying he had been blackmailed to convict Sharif and saying the video had been manipulated.
He also declared in an affidavit that he had been offered bribes followed by blackmail threats by figures close to Sharif to rule in favor of him, an accusation the PML-N denied.
Aurangzeb said the judge had not provided any evidence of bribes with his affidavit.
“The allegations are baseless and a pack of lies,” she told reporters.
After days of growing pressure, the Islamabad High Court asked the ministry to remove him from his position.
“Judge Arshad Malik was asked to stop working on the basis of the alleged video and the press release,” Minister of Law and Justice Farogh Naseem told a news conference.
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