LAHORE - Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who was the then Information Minister during the Pervez Musharraf era, disclosed on Thursday that ex-CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had a secret telephone with him when he was under detention after being sacked in November 2007.

Answering questions in a TV programme, he said from the secret phone Iftikhar Chaudhry had made more than 70 phone calls to various people, a few of them also to Mian Nawaz Sharif. He ridiculed claims that during detention the sacked judge had no contact with the outside world.

This is the first time that in-detention contacts of Iftikhar Chaudhry with various people have been made public. According to Sheikh Rashid, most of the calls had been made to Rana Sanaullah, a cousin of the former Chief Justice. 

A number of calls had also been made to Mian Manzoor Wattoo, he stated. Mian Nawaz Sharif, then out of power, had launched a very strong movement for the restoration of Iftikhar Chaudhry.

In response to a question, Sheikh Rashid said that Justice Chaudhry had to face the reference against him were mainly because of the wrong doings of his son Arsalan.  About allegations of ‘love child’ against Imran Khan, he said that Ishaq Dar was the mastermind of the campaign when it was first launched in the late 90s. “I checked it thrice”.  However, he said, he would not say anything whether Ishaq Dar was also behind the campaign started afresh by Arsalan Iftikhar.  

Responding to another question, he said that the participants of the Aug 14 long march on Islamabad would go well prepared and in case the government took any action against them they would pay in the same coin. Sheikh Rashid called for fresh elections as according to him the last year’s polls were massively rigged.

He said that the present rulers were responsible for the rigging.

Sheikh Rashid said the scrutiny of the ballots cast in four National Assembly constituencies, sought by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, would make it clear whether the May 2013 elections were free and fair or  were manipulated.

Answering a question, he said the existing system could not be called democratic as all important positions had been occupied by the members of the ruling family or their favourites.