The Lahore High Court’s (LHC) executive committee on Friday dismissed former accountability court judge Arshad Malik, who convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia Steel Mill reference in 2018. A meeting of the executive committee of the apex court comprising Justice Muhammad Amir Bhatti, Justice Shehzad Ahmed Khan, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Ali Baqir Najafi was held under the chairmanship of LHC Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan. The decision to dismiss the judge was made after completing the investigation of the video which was released by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz during a press conference showing the judge ‘confessing’ to convicting former premier under duress. The judge confessed to being in a compromising situation, but claimed that he was trapped after being sedated. Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Accountability Shehzad Akbar said that Arshad Malik was appointed by former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Akbar added that Arshad Malik, one of the two characters in the judge blackmail case, has been fired. “The other character in the game is Maryam Nawaz. She tried to influence the case by using the judge’s video.” Meanwhile, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Friday said that the reported dismissal of former Islamabad accountability court judge Arshad Malik “proved the innocence” of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “Mian sb’s sentence ought to be declared null and void,” said Shehbaz of his brother’s seven-year sentence in the Al Azizia corruption reference. Last year in July, the Islamabad High Court had removed Malik from his post amid a controversy surrounding a leaked videotape showing his purported confession that he had been “pressurised and blackmailed” to convict Nawaz Sharif in the Al Azizia corruption reference. The judge had denied the allegations, saying there was no pressure on him to convict Nawaz Sharif and that the videos shown by Maryam Nawaz of his alleged confession at a press conference were “fake and based on lies”. In a statement on Friday, Shehbaz welcomed the reported decision of Malik’s dismissal and said that justice had finally been served. “This proves that his [Malik’s] decision was not just and [Nawaz] was punished unfairly.” He added that in light of this, it was expected the verdict against Nawaz would be withdrawn. “The LHC administration committee’s decision is proof of his innocence.” He appealed to party workers and the public to offer prayers of gratitude. PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also hailed the media reports, calling it a victory. “The decision has washed away a stain on Nawaz and on the institution of justice.” She added that in light of the decision, the “tainted” judge’s decision regarding Nawaz should be withdrawn. “Justice is never incomplete. It dictates that [Malik’s] decision be declared void in the same way he was dismissed.” She added that it was very easy to preach about the law and the Constitution. “You need Nawaz’s bravery to face the law, knowing that you are innocent and that your spouse is on their death bed,” she said, adding that her father’s perseverance had finally prevailed. The seven-member administration committee, headed by the then LHC chief justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan, in its meeting on August 26 last year had approved an inquiry against judge Arshad Malik. Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem of the LHC had been tasked with the inquiry. The PML-N had accused judge Malik of convicting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference under duress. However, the judge had acquitted Nawaz of the charges in the Flagship Investments reference. On the other hand, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Friday said judge Arshad Malik’s dismissal from service was the drop scene of an era where certain judges were blackmailed through cronies. The minister, in a tweet, said the PML-N and its leadership should apologise to the nation for patronising, blackmailing and corruption – the traits of a mafia mind-set.