Pakistan
  • “If they wanted to pay taxes, they wouldn’t have made offshore companies,” Sharifs’ lawyer tells SC in Panama hearings

  • “Why are both parties fighting over the issue of documents? Recording proofs is not our job. For their scrutiny we might have to set up a commission,” Justice Khosa said.

  • Both parties speak more on the media, less in the court: SC

ISLAMABAD – Supreme court of Pakistan on Wednesday adjourned the Panama case hearing and hinted at forming an inquiry commission comprised of one Judge to investigate the the allegations leveled in the petitions by both parties.

The Supreme Court asked both parties to decide over the formation of a commission. The commission will comprise one judge and be able to call anyone as part of the probe.

Regarding the formation of a commission, PTI’s lawyer Naeem Bukhari asked for a day’s time, while the Prime Minister’s legal team began consultations.

PTI’s lawyer Babar Awan said the inquiry commissions have always been futile historically.

“What will be the TORs of the commission if it is to be formed,” Naeem Bukhari asked adding all institutions are under Prime Minister’s control and hence can’t be taken as impartial or independent.

The Chief Justice remarked that incomplete evidence had been submitted before the court. “Naeem Bukhari has submitted documents downloaded from the internet. Such documents are not admissible evidence,” he said.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that when documents are read it is evident that the prime minister’s lawyer has not answered the questions we asked. “To serve justice this matter has to be investigated,” he said.

Sharifs present arguments, answers to ‘three important questions’

A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, has resumed the hearing of Panama Leaks case and a probable showdown between govt and PTI is expected.

During today’s hearing, Prime Minister’s counsel Salman Butt argued that the Prime Minister had not been named directly in the Panama papers. “The Prime Minister is not responsible for everything which the Sharif family does wrong.”

Salman Butt argued that the records are 40 years old and it is difficult for him to find documents.

To this Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said that the he was presenting dangerous evidence to defend the PM.

“You should rather say I don’t know how the money was paid,” Justice Ameer Hani Muslim said.

To this Justice Khosa said, that in his speeches he had said that he had all the documents.

“All these financial matters were between grandfather and grandson,” Justice Ijaz ul Hasan remarked.

The court asked for the verdict and reference submitted to the reference.

“Why are both parties fighting over the issue of documents? Recording proofs is not our job. For their scrutiny we might have to set up a commission,” Justice Khosa said.

Salman Butt claimed that Maryam Nawaz was not dependent on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif adding that Hussain Nawaz was the beneficiary of offshore companies whereas Maryam was a trustee.

He claimed that no tax was imposed on offshore companies and the said companies were originally set up for the same purpose to avoid tax. He argued that British laws regarding the trust deed were much flexible and so it was not mandatory to register trust deed.

Salman expressed that according to PTI, a total of Rs. 36 million AED were outstanding as liabilities for Dubai mill. He claimed that the dues regarding electricity were paid in instalments by Tariq Shafi, cousin of PM Nawaz.

He went on to clarify that it was not possible to present 40-years-old tax record adding that banks in Dubai do not keep the record for more than 5 years. He said that after the 1999 coup, business record of Sharif family was confiscated.

He claimed that Sharif family inked an agreement worth Rs. 21 million $ with BCCI bank in 1978.

Salman Butt expressed that there was no legal ground of the Panama papers and PM Nawaz name did not appear in those papers.

Justice Azmat remarked that if the Dubai mill was in the loss, how did the Sharif family manage to clear the dues in terms of electricity.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that according to the documents, Maryam Nawaz was a beneficiary of offshore companies adding that a commission could be set up for investigation of the documents. He observed that the arguments of Sharif family counsel Salman Butt were dangerous for the family in fact.

Justice Khosa observed what type of defence it was that PM Nawaz was saying his father did all these deals and he was ignorant about it. He said that Sharif family’s counsel was implying that the matter was between Grandfather Mian Shareef and grandson Hussain Nawaz.

To this, Salman replied it was possible that Mian Nawaz Sharif knew about these matters as he takes decisions by his own will. He stated that Nawaz Sharif was not solely responsible for every action of Sharif family as he did not sign any documents.

Salman also read the speech delivered by PM Nawaz in which he said that Hassan and Hussain used the financial resources for setting up a business empire. He claimed that the resources could have been used for managing existing business as well.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali expressed that the actual worth of companies ranges in billions although owners mention the worth in few million. He also sought the complete details regarding the disqualification reference filed in the office of the speaker of National Assembly.

Justice AIjaz Ul Hassan observed that PM Nawaz did not mention about any Qatari prince in his statements on the floor of the house. He also expressed that it looked impossible that the Sharif family invested in Qatar but had no record about the money trail.

After the resumption of proceedings, Justice Khosa said that it was difficult to investigate the record that dates back to 1980. He also inquired television Anchor as if he conducted an interview with PM Nawaz in 1997 to which Kashif replied that Hamid Mir had conducted that special interview. Justice Khosa observed that the transcript of the interview could help in investigations.

He inquired as if the court could disqualify PM Nawaz on te basis of sketchy papers.

CJ Anwar Jamali expressed that if the govt was pursuing for a commission to probe into the matter, then why the valuable time of apex court was being wasted.

PTI’s counsel started his arguments by saying that the apex court should decide the future of PM Nawaz in the light of article 62,63 of constitution to which CJ replied that PTI used those articles when it filed a reference before speaker of National Assembly adding that benefit of the doubt goes to accused in criminal proceedings.

Talking to newsmen outside Supreme Court, Fawad Chaudhry of PTI lashed out at Sharif family and claimed that the only option left for them was to file a mercy petition as they failed to defend PM Nawaz on the matter.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday raised three important questions during the hearing of the Panama Leaks.

The three questions asked by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa are listed below:

  1.  How did the prime minister’s children form the companies?
  2.  Explain the issue of dependency
  3.  Were the prime minister’s speeches true or not?

Supreme Court of Pakistan expressed suspicion in the statements of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children submitted in Panama Leaks case and said there seems a contradiction in the stances of Hassan Nawaz and Qatari prince.

The court said if all the statements are read thoroughly, it seems that the money trailed from Dubai to Qatar, then to Saudi Arabia and London.

A request for hearing on daily basis has been forwarded by Prime Minister’s scions taking the plea that the case was of crucial importance.

Multiple political parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami Muslim League and Jamhoori Watan Party, and an individual Tariq Asad had moved the apex court against PM Nawaz Sharif and his family over various charges, including money-laundering, setting up of offshore companies illegally and non-declaration of their assets, etc.