ISLAMABAD - As Director General of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Wajid Zia settled down in his new position, the agency has summoned three PML-N leaders in the video scandal of former accountability court judge Muhammad Arshad Malik.

The leaders included PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid, PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Uzma Bokhari and party’s Deputy Secretary General Attaullah Tarar at the FIA’s office in Lahore to record their statements.

Senator Rashid, a close aide to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and Ms Bokhari have been summoned to appear before investigation team on December 30 and Mr Tarar has been asked to ensure his presence on December 27.

Former accountability court judge Arshad Malik had convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case.

On July 6 of this year, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had held a press conference in Lahore alleging that an “immoral video” was used to pressurize and blackmail judge Malik to convict her father Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. He had also made public a video of the judge claiming he (judge) confessed that he was under duress to convict form PM—an allegation to which the judge later denied.

Pervaiz Rashid, Uzma Bokhari, Attaullah Tarar asked to record statements at Agency’s Lahore office

Ijaz Ahmed Sheikh, the principal investigator of the FIA in the case, has issued separate notices to all three PML-N leaders under section 160 CR.P.C (Code of Criminal Procedure) in the FIR no 24/2019 registered by agency’s  Cyber Crime Wing in Islamabad.

“This Agency is conducting investigation in the subject case and reportedly you are well aware of the facts and circumstances of this case. Therefore, you are directed to appear before the investigation officers at FIA Zonal Office-I … in Lahore on Dec 30,” said the notice issued to the Senator Rashid.

Zia was the head of the Joint Investigation Team who had gathered evidence against Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the Panama Papers case and was posted, last month, as the new DG replacing Bashir Ahmed Memon.

Soon after July 6 presser of Maryam, FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing on the complaint of judge Malik had registered a case against six persons including those who had recorded the second alleged confessional video of him.

They were booked for their alleged involvement for secretly recording audio and video images of judge and “manipulating the same to blackmail and pressurize him for “subversion of justice.” Those who charged included PML-N loyalists as well as some close aides of former prime minister. They were Mian Saleem Raza, Nasir Janjua, Nasir Butt, Khurram Yousaf and Mehr Ghulam Jillani.

However, FIA in the FIR (first information report) had named Maryam and all those senior PML-N leaders who were part of that press conference but they had not been charged directly.

The FIR quoting judge Malik said that on July 6, he was shocked to see Maryam Nawaz along with the senior leaders of PML-N including Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (former PM), Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Asif, Pervaiz Rashid, Rana Tanveer and Uzma Bukhari and others holding a press conference in Lahore.

After this, the FIA had arrested three suspects including Nasir Janjua, Maher Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf in connection with this case.

Later, all three were released by a civil judge on the FIA request that they have been discharged from the case for being innocent.

The FIA report submitted before the Supreme Court said that Shahbaz Sharif had expressed his ignorance about the video saying that only Maryam could give a proper answer. Other PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Attaullah Tarrar had also given a similar response.