After disqualifying for the third time as prime minister, Nawaz Sharif also faced two different imprisonment sentences: first one in Avenfield reference when he was awarded 10 years sentence, weeks before the general election in July 2018 and the second one in December 2018 when he was sentenced seven years in prison by an accountability judge, Arshad Malik in Al-Azizia Still Mills corruption case.
Pakistan Muslim League-N had already termed those developments as a conspiracy against democracy and the incumbent prime minister Imran Khan’s personal vendetta against Sharif family. Later in July 2019, PML-N leadership released a videotape during a press conference, since then Arshad Malik’s name had been frequently called out by media.
At the press conference in Lahore, Maryam Nawaz Safdar played a secretly recorded video of a conversation between Nasir Butt, a PML-N sympathiser and the judge who had announced the last verdict, Arshad Malik,. The conversation revealed that the verdict was “unjust” and Malik was “blackmailed” into issuing a judgement against Nawaz Sharif.
The statement by PML-N leadership was like an explosion for Pakistani politics which had always been influenced by civil-military tensions. There was a counterclaim made by the judge Malik in which he levelled the allegations of “bribes” against the Sharif family assuring that he was not dealing with any “guilt” regarding the Al-Azizia reference judgement.
A year later, the Lahore High court dismissed the accountability judge from his post. However, the decision was welcomed by both the ruling party PTI and the opposition PMLN from different point of views. The second character of the controversial video, Nasir Butt was also declared offender over decades-old murder chargers and placed on the list of ‘most wanted’ terrorists by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Nasir Butt had left for London prior to the release of the video.
On 4 December 2020, former accountability judge and the central character of the video scandal, Arshad Malik passed away from coronavirus, carrying many questions with him, some of which he had answered vaguely.
Has the story ended with the death of the judge? or its main characters have yet to be named.