Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan has adjourned hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into Panama papers till Thursday.


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Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf completed his arguments today as advised by the five-member bench.

Ashtar Ausaf kicked off his arguments by pleading that the matter of Panama Leaks should not be co-related with Hudaibia paper mills case as the two were of different nature.

Justice Azmat Saeed said that if the allegations put forth in Hudaibia paper mills case were not true, then there was no reason for the AGP to be hesitant about it.

Ashtar continued that the appeal against the verdict delivered by court could be filed by anyone. However, justice Aijaz Afzal negated him and remarked that only the concerned party can file an appeal.

AGP remained adamant and maintained that anyone can file appeal against the verdict delivered by the court.

Justice Azmat remarked that it was the fundamental right of citizens to know whether their premier was qualified or not for the said post.

Ausaf maintained that Article 63 of the constitution prohibits declaration by the apex court. Justice Aijaz Afzal remarked that by issuing a declaration, there would be nothing left for investigations.

Ashtar Ausaf argued that the matter was regarding disqualification of member of assembly instead of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister and so disqualification reference should be submitted before the speaker of National Assembly as per the constitution. He said that if the speaker fails to decide, then the matter can be taken up by any other forum.

To this, Justice Khosa replied that the apex court had already declared the petition as admissible in September last year.

Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the apex court during several proceedings observed that the court could intervene provided relevant departments fail to act accordingly. He said that no one was assisting the apex court.

He quipped that the court was well aware that the AGP was in difficulty regarding the case. He instructed AGP to assist the court to which Ausaf replied that he was not becoming party to the case, infact he was assisting the court.

At this point, PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari intervened and maintained that the apex court disqualified former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani although Rs. 65 million dollars were not brought back regarding Swiss cases.

The five-member bench asked AGP to answer the allegations in Urdu or English levelled regarding the Panama Leaks.

AGP continued his arguments and expressed that for false statement in nomination papers, a criminal case can be launched, but Article 248 of the constitution prohibits registration of case against the president, governors.

Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that premier’s insurance policy was NAB, which had “breathed its last” yesterday while referring to NAB chairman’s arguments regarding Panama Leaks.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa inquired whether chairman NAB could issue a challan ticket to anyone based on what he argued before the bench yesterday regarding Panama papers.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf completed his arguments and PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari has taken the floor again. He would probably be completing his arguments tomorrow.

Meanwhile, during the break, PTI’s representative Fawad Chaudhry while talking to newsmen stated that the Sharif family was arguing that the apex court could not deliver the verdict. He said that the Attorney General’s arguments were the same as those of the premier’s counsel.

On the other hand, PML-N’s Danyal Aziz reiterated that PTI had no evidence to bolster its case. He alleged that PTI changed the laws when corruption cases were brought to light in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.

During the last hearing, Justice Khosa had remarked that the proceedings would complete tomorrow (Thursday).

NAB, FBR chiefs appeared before the bench during last hearing to provide details regarding what their respective organisations did after the Panama Leaks surfaced.

NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry faced a barrage of questions and he apparently faced tough time in justifying why NAB did not file appeal against the verdict by Lahore high court in the purview of Hudaibia paper mills case.

On the other hand FBR head Muhammad Irshad was also grilled as to what FBR did regarding offshore firms revealed in Panama Leaks.

Meanwhile, the prime minister and his children filed another application in the court on Tuesday through their counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan pleading that additional documents submitted by Imran Khan should not be made part of the case record.

Pleading further, they said that these documents and counter affidavit should be excluded from consideration in the interest of justice by this court since the respondents did not get an opportunity for a response to these documents.

Otherwise, eight weeks time would be required to submit a reply to these documents through counter affidavit and the case thus needed to be listed for arguments along with two petitions.