After media reports last week first implicated Iftikhar, 32, the chief justice called hearings and then recused himself from the panel of judges hearing the case.
So far, there’s been no suggestion that Chaudhry benefited financially from Hussain’s alleged dealings with Iftikhar, or that the money led to favorable treatment by the courts.
Chaudhry took on the country’s last military dictator and is widely lauded as a hero in Pakistan. He has hauled military and intelligence officials up before the courts on charges of ordering extrajudicial executions and forced the prime minister to answer charges he shielded the president against corruption accusations. In April, the Supreme Court ruled that Gilani should be disqualified from office – though he remains in the job.
But many in Pakistan are asking how Chaudhry could have failed to notice that his son was amassing wealth.
In an 83-page submission to the court, Hussain claimed that Iftikhar “victimized and blackmailed” him and failed to deliver on promises to get him “relief” from the court cases pending against him. Hussain said he picked up a $163,000 tab for three holidays and separately paid $3.4 million in cash to Iftikhar in four installments, although he didn’t offer any proof of paying the cash.
In court papers, Iftikhar admitted that someone else paid about $47,000 for his stays in London but that he repaid the money. But the rent was initially paid by Zaid Rehman, who appears to have links to Hussain and Bahria Town. Iftikhar’s mother and sisters accompanied him on at least some of the trips, raising further questions about how the chief justice was not suspicious of the lavish visits.
Chaudhry was removed from his job in 2007 by the then U.S.-backed military ruler of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. That led to a popular movement led by thousands of lawyers for his restoration to office, turning him into an icon. After Zardari’s party won elections in 2008, he bowed to more protests and made Chaudhry chief justice again in March 2009.