ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday accused the ‘Pakistani mafia’ of using tactics such as bribe and blackmail to pressurise the state institutions and judiciary in order to protect their laundered money.

“The Pakistani mafia uses tactics of bribe, threat, blackmail and begging to pressurise the state institutions and judiciary in order to protect their billions of money laundering stashed abroad,” Prime Minister wrote on tweeter yesterday.

The premier’s remarks came in a tweet accompanied by a four-year-old news article about a testimony given by former Italian president Giorgio Napolitano during a trial regarding bombings carried out by mobsters in the 1990s.

Napolitano was reported to have told prosecutors that the attacks were a form of “extortion or outright pressure aimed at destabilising the entire system”.

The bombings had allegedly led to high-ranking Italian ministers negotiating with the Sicilian Mafia to end the violence in exchange for softer jail sentences and better conditions in prison for convicted mobsters, according to The Local’s report.

“In a similar vein to the ‘Sicilian mafia’, the Pakistani mafia uses tactics of bribe, threat, blackmail and begging to pressurise state institutions and judiciary in order to protect their looted billions,” Prime Minister Imran wrote in his tweet.

Prime Minister’s statement on the microblogging website comes days after the PML-N released a controversial video involving an accountability court judge. The judge was responsible for the Al-Azizia verdict sending Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to jail for seven years.

As the Videogate controversy unfolded, the Law Ministry on July 12 barred Arshad Malik from serving as an accountability court judge and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has requested his removal.

Law Minister Farough Naseem later clarified that the sentence handed down by the judge in the Al-Azizia reference would not be overturned unless the IHC decided that the verdict was delivered under duress.

Denying the allegations by the PML-N earlier in the day, Arshad Malik in an affidavit submitted to the IHC had claimed he was offered Rs500 million by the son of Nawaz Sharif to resign on the pretext that he could “no longer deal with the guilt of having convicted the former premier under duress and without evidence”.

On Malik’s claims that he was threatened and offered bribes, the law minister said there would be a legal action against anyone who tried to intimidate or blackmail judges.

However, the Prime Minister’s tweet against the ‘Pakistani mafia’ did not go well with PML-N’s Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, who lashed out in response to the tweet.

In reply to the prime minister’s tweet, Maryam Nawaz, who was convicted in Avenfield case for owning assets beyond known source of income, replied back to the premier and accused him of being a part of the mafias that pressurise judges into targeting and punishing his political opponents.

“It is you who used the institutions to settle scores with your opponents and defaced and maligned them in the process. Shame on you,” she further accused the prime minister.  She claimed this while addressing a press conference last week while she played a video as ‘evidence’ in which Judge Arshad Malik was allegedly confessing about announcing unjust verdict against Nawaz Sharif.

Maryam had claimed that the judge, who was in a conversation with Nasir Butt, a loyal fan of her father, had allegedly told him that he was pressured into convicting Nawaz Sharif.