Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into Panama papers till Friday as PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan winded up his arguments.

Counsel for Maryam Nawaz, Shahid Hamid submitted details regarding her property describing when and how Maryam purchased these properties.

PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan kicked off his arguments by stating that Maryam Nawaz was not dependent on Nawaz Sharif. He clarified that Nawaz Sharif purchased property in Maryam’s name, and when Maryam paid the due amount, the ownership of land was transferred.

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Chairman PTI Imran Khan arrives at Supreme Court

PM’s counsel argued that every transaction can not be termed as ‘Benami’ as there was a proper legal definition set for such transactions.

He clarified that Shahid Hamid would argue on the issue of trust deed regarding London flats.

Justice Aijaz Afzal remarked that the record apparently suggests that Maryam was dependent on her father Nawaz Sharif. He observed that the apex court would interpret the issue of dependency regarding the particular Panama case.

‘How can the court pass verdict on the basis of assumptions which would have consequences in future’ remarked justice Aijaz Afzal.

Justice Asif Khosa in a categoric statement remarked that setting up offshore companies was not illegal, but concealing assets and tax was definitely illegal. He went on and maintained that the case was of public importance.

However, Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that tax can not be evaded but it can only be saved through offshore companies.

‘Roosevelt hotel and New York hotels were set up as offshore assets to avoid tax’ said Makhdoom Ali Khan however, he admitted that Nawaz Sharif could be disqualified as a member of the National Assembly but not as the premier referring to the case of Mehmood Akhter Naqvi case.

Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that the apex court was trying to secure non-controversial documentary evidence while justice Gulzar stated that the larger bench should be aided in finding out whether the apex court could continue proceedings on the basis of co-warranto.

‘We wish there was more space in the court so that higher number of lawyers could see you argue’ said the larger bench to Makhdoom Ali Khan.

PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan also presented book named ‘Capitalism’s Achilles Heel’ before the larger bench.

The apex court adjourned the hearing till Friday.

Meanwhile, talking to newsmen outside Supreme Court, PML-N’s representative Khawaja Asif said that it was illegal to discuss court’s proceedings in public. Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq said that PTI wanted to score politically on Panama issue.

During the last hearing, Makhdoom reiterated that Maryam Nawaz was not dependent on premier Nawaz Sharif and Hussain Nawaz also had a National Tax Number (NTN).

“A total of $ 310,000  was transferred from premier’s account to Maryam Nawaz’s account,” said Makhdoom Ali Khan adding that Nawaz Sharif too had accepted gifts but all of it had been through banks. He argued that Nawaz Sharif did not conceal anything from the court.

Makhdom reaffirmed that Nawaz Sharif did not own any flat or offshore company.

“It could not be determined whether Sharif family mentioned gifts worth $ 1.9 million in their tax returns,” remarked Justice Aijaz.

Justice Azmat Saeed observed that both of the concerned parties did not want to produce any supporting evidence regarding the case adding that according to the record available, no income was generated through offshore companies.

Regarding the exchange of gifts between premier and his children, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that the money was handed over as a gift. He expressed that there was a possibility that the money handed over as a gift could be transferred illegally.

The apex court remarked that during a period of four years, Hussain Nawaz handed over Rs. 520 million to his father as a gift, contrary to Pakistani norms according to which fathers are the ones giving gifts to their children.

“We want to know where such a big amount is coming from,” Justice Ijazul Hassan posed a question to PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan. Makhdoom Ali Khan admitted that for wealth statements of 2012-13 Maryam’s name was not mentioned under the dependent section as a separate column was not included.

At this point, Justice Aijaz Ul Ahsan said that the larger bench wanted to inquire about the source of income adding that the money seemed to be a gift.