Former CJ Chaudhry conspired against me: Musharraf

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Islamabad, Dec 20 (UNI) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice (Retd) Khalilur Rehman Ramday, PPP leader Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were involved in the conspiracy to block his way to become a constitutionally elected President.

Local daily The Nation quoted him as saying this at the 18th annual banquet of the Pakistani American Public Affairs Committee (PAK-PAC) and its Board of Directors last night.

Mr Musharraf claimed that Justice (Retd) Ramday and Chaudhry Ahsan held a meeting in Geneva.

''Today I want to disclose as to what conspiracy was being hatched to sidetrack democracy,'' he said.

Justice Ramday headed the 13-member bench of the Supreme Court that reinstated Justice(Retd) Chaudhry in July after throwing away presidential reference of corruption against the former CJ, while Chaudhry Ahsan was his lead counsel in the case.

The President alleged that Justice (Retd) Chaudhry was at the centre of this conspiracy.

''A day before giving verdict against Steel Mills, he telephoned my Military Secretary that he wanted to meet me and talk about the Steel Mills issue. I told him I do not know much about legal matters and advised him to talk to the Attorney General. Next day, he came to meet me at Aiwan-e-Sadr, where the Attorney General was also present. I told him that privatisation was the basis of our economic policy. The next day he told the bench hearing the Steel Mills case that he had met me and found a solution, but the next day the Supreme Court decision was contrary to his claims,'' Mr Musharraf claimed.

The former CJ, who was known for his judicial activism, had declared former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's decision to privatise the state-owned steel mills as non-transparent and ordered the government to stop privatisation of the mills.

The President said the Supreme Court verdict against the steel mills damaged the prospects of foreign investment in the country.

The investors, he said, had plans to produce 5 million tons of steel, but after the Supreme Court verdict they decided not to do so.

He said, ''I want to tell what the former Chief Justice was. He was corrupt. There were complaints from various quarters that he was not only interfering in administrative matters but also interfering in the affairs of High Courts of other provinces.

''He virtually abused the Chief Justices of High Courts. He was not taking decisions on merit. A person who was Chief Justice of Pakistan was not delivering justice. He insulted the high-ranking police officers. He committed hanky panky in preparing his patrol and medical bills. I sent the reference on the recommendations of the Federal and provincial governments and Chief Justices of the High Courts.

''This reference was sent to the Supreme Judicial Council. I did not constitute this Council. This was a constitutional body which was ignored,'' Mr Musharraf said.

The President said the Supreme Court bench, which issued a short order in favour of Justice(Retd) Chaudhry did not release the detailed judgement, because they were not in a position to do so.

''I tried my best to reach a compromise with Iftikhar Chaudhry and declared in a public meeting that there was nothing personal between me and the former Chief Justice and I accepted his verdict, but he continued to toe the confrontational path,'' he added.

The President said, on the other hand, media was aggravating the situation. It was weakening the country, he said, adding that the former Chief Justice was taking suo moto notices despite the fact that there were hundreds of complaints filed by the common citizens.

Mr Musharraf further said that the result of his being elected as President by 57 per cent of the parliament members was held in abeyance.

He also alleged that the strength of 7-member bench was raised to 11 because the former CJ feared that 5 out of the 7 judges would decide in his favour.

UNI

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