Panama JIT concludes first session with Capt Safdar as probe enters decisive spell

  • Capt (r) Safdar was instructed to appear before Panama JIT at 11 AM
  • JIT had rejected application of PM's son-in-law to change date of hearing
  • Responded to questions of JIT which treated me well: Capt Safdar
  • Panama case was accountability of two-nation theory, not Nawaz Sharif: Capt Safdar
Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The six-member Joint Investigation Team tasked to probe offshore assets of the Sharif family concluded its first session with PM’s son-in-law Captain Safdar here on Saturday.

The JIT had summoned Captain (retd) Safdar at 11 am today and interrogated him for five hours as the proceedings are heading towards completion.

Talking to newsmen after the appearance, Captain Safdar said he would not disclose what took place during his appearance before the JIT as the matter was pending in court.

“We stand for the protection of the 1973 constitution,” he affirmed.

He claimed that the Panama case was not against Nawaz Sharif but against a leader that made Pakistan a nuclear power, the one who made motorways and took Pakistan away from darkness.

Capt (retd) Safdar said he was treated well by the members of the JIT but asked why no one was questioning the people who had Surrey palaces.

The legislator went a mile further and claimed that the Panama case was not accountability of Nawaz Sharif but of two-nation theory.

Earlier on Wednesday, the JIT had rejected Captain (retd) Safdar’s application of changing the date of his hearing and directed him to appear before the team as per schedule.

PM Nawaz Summoning

The Joint Investigation Team that is in the final phase of completing its report summoned Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on June 15 for interrogation.

The premier appeared before the team and recorded his statement for over three hours. Talking to newsmen after the appearance, the premier claimed that his family faced accountability in the past as well.

He added that the present process of accountability has been extended to a period beyond his birth.

“I appeared before the investigation team as we are equally accountable to the institutions,” the PM said, adding that today was a milestone for the rule of law.

PM Nawaz Sharif said that soon after Panama Leaks, he had offered himself for accountability. He stressed, “The people of Pakistan need to understand that whatever is happening today has nothing to do with any corruption or embezzlement of the national exchequer, but it is the personal and private business of our family, that is being dragged.”.  All conspiracies against him and his family would be foiled, he said.

He added that he held the office of prime minister thrice and remained chief minister of Punjab and passed several development projects in the country, but there are no charges of embezzlement in national kitty on him.

He warned that there will be “a JIT of 200 million people going to be held next year when they [people] will select those who have worked for the development of the country.”

Shehbaz Sharif’s Appearance

The Joint Investigation Team also summoned Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif on June 17 to dig out the truth regarding the landmark Panama case.

Talking to reporters after his first appearance before the six-member Joint Investigation Team tasked to probe the offshore assets of the ruling Sharif family, he expressed that the Sharif family faced accountability several times in the past as well.

Regarding his position whether he was summoned as accused or witness, the chief minister responded that he was asked to appear before the team as somebody “acquainted with the facts of the Panamagate.”

“Whatever questions the JIT asked, I answered them to the best of my knowledge,” he said and added that a new chapter of history had been written today after a chief minister of a province and a sitting prime minister appeared before an investigation committee in the country.

In a veiled reference, the chief minister hit out at former president Pervez Musharraf as well by saying “Everyone knows I have severe back pain, but I did not flee from the JIT’s summons, I did not go away to London, never to return, like other politicians.”

The legislator said that the Sharif family proved that they had respect for the law, unlike military rulers who usurp power on gunpoint.

“This is not the first time that the Sharif family has been put to trial, people should not forget the time when our family’s Ittefaq Foundries were taken from us by force,” he said during his media talk.

He expressed that the elected political leaders abided by the constitution and law, and this was also manifested by his appearance before the JIT.

Shehbaz Sharif referred to several corruption scams including NICL, Neelum Jehlum and Rental power plants and draw a comparison with the ‘transparent’ incumbent government.

Hassan & Hussain Nawaz’s Appearances

Prime Minister’s son Hassan and Hussain Nawaz were also summoned by the investigative team in late May.

Hussain, the elder son of the premier appeared before the team five times, while Hassan Nawaz arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy twice.

Hussain Nawaz also filed an application in the Supreme Court after his photo showing him in federal judicial academy was leaked online.

However, the application was rejected by the apex court endorsing the decision of JIT to record the sessions on camera.

Panama Verdict

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had announced the verdict of the landmark Panama case on April 20, in which it ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Team to probe offshore assets of the Sharif family.

Representatives from Intra Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and National Accountability Bureau are part of the team headed by Wajid Zia of Federal Investigation Agency.

In its judgement, the Supreme Court had also outlined the scope of the proposed JIT, which would probe how the Gulf Steel Mills in UAE came into being, what led to its sale, what happened to its liabilities, where did its sale proceeds end up, how did they reach Jeddah, Qatar and the UK, whether Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz in view of their ages at the time had the means to possess and purchase the flats, and whether the sudden appearance of the letters of Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani of the Qatar was a myth or a reality.

The court also asked how bearer shares translated into the four upscale flats in London, who was the real and beneficial owner of Nielsen Enterprises Limited and Nescoll Limited, how did Hill Metal Establishment come into existence, where did the money for Flagship Investment Limited and other companies set up or taken over by Hassan Nawaz and where did the working capital for such companies come from and where do the huge sums running into millions gifted by Hussain Nawaz to the prime minister drop in from, Dawn News reported.