While accusing Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry of holding secret meetings with him, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz has said there is no free judiciary in the country and it is run by 'don' Arsalan Iftikhar, Chaudhary's son, reports Tahir Ali
Following his appearance in the supreme court regarding his involvement in a graft case with Arsalan, Malik Riaz held a press conference in Islamabad and alleged that the CJ was aware of his meetings with Arsalan but chose to turn a blind eye to it. Incidentally, Riaz is infamous for bribing journalists, politicians and bureaucrats in the country in return for favours.
Before holding the conference, Riaz submitted his official response in the Arsalan Iftikhar suo motu case and accused the chief justice's son of accepting kickbacks and bribes worth over Rs 340 million from him. He also alleged that the money was used to fund Arsalan's two separate foreign trips.
The statement said that Arsalan had assured him to be of assistance in different cases against Bahria Town (a housing scheme) pending in the courts. He claimed that he possessed ample evidence against the transactions that took place between him and Arsalan.
Holding a mini Quran, Riaz said, "I have come here with the Holy Quran, just like the chief justice did. I have three questions for him."
As his first question, Riaz asked the chief justice to tell the nation how many times they had met, and if his son really did not know him.
"Was he (Arsalan) not there in the meetings?" He further questioned the chief justice to tell how many times the prime minister and the CJ met at his partner Ahmed Khalil's residence.
"Place this Holy Quran in front of you and tell the people: for how long have you not known about this? Why did you not take a suo motu then? Why did you take a suo motu only when the media broke the news?" he asked.
Riaz alleged that a sitting judge of the supreme court also used to be present at the meetings.
Riaz said the CJ should not have take up case against him, adding that Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency was ordered to implicate him (Riaz) in a murder case.
"I have put my business at stake but now I will not tolerate this," he said. He alleged that no third party was behind the episode.
"Blackmailers were sent after me. Why was I pushed against the wall?" he said.
He said that despite being blackmailed, he continued to bear the trouble to avoid destroying his credibility and his career. "I cannot see this country collapsing. I have helped built it."
"Arsalan Iftikhar is a 'don'. But I still respect the chief justice. Even today, I have submitted my reply in written to the court and I stand by my statement," Riaz said, adding that he even wrote a book in 2007 in favour of the chief justice during former President Parvez Musharraf's tenure.
"I also offered the CJ my bullet-proof vehicle. Call me for contempt or send me to jail. I'm ready to die -- I am not afraid of the jails," Riaz said, while promising to disclose more facts in 'due time'.
He alleged that Arsalan was accompanied by a woman on his trip to Monte Carlo. He claims that he bought the ticket for the woman whose identity Arsalan did not reveal at the time.
Riaz alleged that he paid over Rs 2500,000 for the apartment Arsalan rented in Monte Carlo and over Rs 3400,000 for rental cars.
A two-judge bench of SC comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain heard the notice. The suo motu notice had been taken after the rumors of Arslan's shady business dealings with Riaz became loud enough to make it to prime time television. After midnight on June 5, the court had announced the suo motu notice and the first hearing was held on Wednesday.