Panama case: SC pleaded to disqualify PM Nawaz as hearing adjourns

  • There is contradiction between statements of Hassan and Hussain: Bukhari
  • Sharif family submits objections over JIT report
  • Not bound to accept whole findings of JIT: Justice Ijaz

ISLAMABAD –  Counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Jamat e Islami (JI) and others pleaded the Panama case implementing bench to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on findings made by the JIT, before the top court adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.

As the case enters its final round, a three-member bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Monday (today) conducted the first hearing after submission of the final report by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

During today’s hearing, PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari asked the court to summon the prime minister to the court for cross-questioning.

Justice Aijazul Ahsan remarked that the bench was not bound to follow the findings of six-member Joint Investigation Team that interrogated offshore assets of Sharif family.

Sharif family has also submitted its objections over the final report of the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to the Supreme Court.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed and Jamaat-e-Isami head Sirajul Haq, PTI leaders, PPP’s ministers and government representatives were also present on the occasion.

After hearing the arguments, the court has adjourned the case for tomorrow.

PTI Counsel’s Arguments

Opening the arguments, PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari said that the Sharif family could not prove its stance on the Gulf Steel Mills in UAE and payment of 12million Dirhams to Qatari family for business. He added that the mill was not sold for 33million Dirhams.

He said that the investigation team acquired legal assistance in the UAE, adding that the JIT found statements recorded by Tariq Shafi and Hussain Nawaz contradictory.

Shafi gave a wrong statement regarding 1980 agreement with owner of Ahli Steel Company, Dubai in which he held 25 percent shares, said Bukhari.

Bukhari said Qatari letter and work sheets were bogus, adding that the London flats were owned by Sharif family’s Maryam Nawaz since day one.

Naeem Bukhari argued that it was necessary to have a bearer certificate for becoming a trustee, adding that the JIT has declared bearer certificates showed by Maryam as fake after the forensic experts raised objections regarding the font of this trust deed.

He further said that two of five-judge panel of the apex court had announced verdict against PM Nawaz on April 20, while three others sought more investigations.

Bukhari went on saying that there were contradictions in remarks of Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz.

When the court inquired that documents gathered by the JIT were verified, Bukhari said these are not verified but accepted by the investigation team.

Lawyer of Jamat e Islami and Shiekh Rashid also argued before the court in the case.

Judges Remarks

Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan in between the arguments of Bukhari said that Shehbaz Sharif’s statement before the JIT could only be used to highlight discrepancies.

Justice Ejaz further said the court will give its ruling in consonance with all the legal limits. He said according to the JIT, there was no money for investment in Qatar.

He further said that volume 10 of the JIT report will be made public if it was needed.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said the original documents of Hudaibiya Papers Mills are sealed.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that it was not necessary to accept the JIT report in its letter and spirit.

The court, on July 10, had directed the parties to submit their replies by July 17 after reviewing the JIT report.

Security Measures

Ahead of the post-JIT report hearing, security of the apex court has been beefed up. It is being reported that over 2,000 troops, including police, Ranges and others have been deployed.

 JIT Report

The JIT submitted its final report to the apex court on July 10 after a 60-day long deep investigation highlighting that the assets owned by the prime minister and his children are beyond their declared source of income.

It also stated that the ruling family could not give money trail for its London apartments.

Court’s Orders

On July 10, the special bench also asked the government to submit transcripts of speeches delivered by PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry, Prime Minister’s Political Secretary Asif Kirmani and Railways Minister Saad Rafique.

The special bench had also served notice of contempt of court on the editor, publisher and a reporter of The News directing them to submit their response in seven days.

It also directed the authorities to register a criminal case against SECP chief Zafar Hijazi for record tampering, besides ordering the JIT head Waji Zia to reveal the name of the person who leaked the photo of Hussain Nawaz.

Panama probe

The Supreme Court decided to begin investigating the Sharif family in November last year after the main political parties failed to agree on a committee to probe the April 2016 Panama Papers leaks, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan threatened mass protests and to ‘shut down Islamabad’ in protest on November 2.

On April 20, the five-member Supreme Court bench gave its verdict in the case with the judgment split 3-2 in favour of a further probe against the premier’s family wealth. The other two judges had ruled that sufficient evidence was available for the prime minister to be de-seated.

The JIT – formed on May 6 – was given 60 days to complete its probe into the Sharif family’s international financial dealings and submit its report to the Supreme Court’s special implementation bench overseeing its proceedings.

The JIT team is headed by Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, and includes members from Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, SECP, State Bank of Pakistan and NAB.