ISLAMABAD – A larger bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into Panama papers till tomorrow (Friday) while seeking details regarding the 34 million dollars paid by Sharif family and Hassan Nawaz.
The counsel of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday submitted their reply in the area of any conflict of interest in overseeing family business and officiating official responsibilities by Nawaz Sharif during his service on key official positions.
According to the written reply, Nawaz Sharif performed his duties from April 25,1981 to February 28, 1985 as provincial finance minister. It further states that Nawaz Sharif became chief minister Punjab on April 19, 1985 and served in this capacity until May 30, 1988.
Nawaz Sharif remained in office as caretaker chief minister Punjab from May 31, 1988 to December 2, 1988. For his first term Nawaz Sharif served as prime minister from on November 6,1990 to April 18, 1993. As opposition leader, he served from October 19, 1993 to November 5, 1996.
From February 17,1997 to October 12, 1999 he served for the second time as prime minister of Pakistan, according to the reply before being ousted by the then Chief of Army Staff Gen.Pervaiz Musharraf.
The premier was sent into exile on December 10, 2000 and returned to Pakistan on November 26, 2007.
The apex court inquired from Makhdoom Ali Khan whether he had provided copies of the reply to lawyers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as well to which he said that copies were given to them as well.
After the submission of reply, PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari kicked off his arguments. He expressed that the investments in Qatar apparently suggest that the Sharif family bought new properties adding that the Sharif family did not mention the transfer of money from Dubai. He said that the premier never mentioned any Qatari letter in his statements.
Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that the Qatari letter did not suggest that the offshore companies were owned by Al-Thani family and so the letter appeared to be memoirs of an individual.
Justice Asif Khosa remarked that the premier and his son Hussain Nawaz said that they had complete record and it would be presented before the court although the Al-Thani family expressed having complete record in this regard. He stated that the court could summon any individual if he refuted his earlier statements or interview as he referred to the interview of Kulsoom Nawaz given in 2000.
Justice Azmat Saeed stated that the court would question and investigate both the concerned parties linked to Panama case for digging out the truth. He remarked that if the court resorts to punishment or execution of any individual merely on the basis of an interview, then PTI’s client could come under the hammer as well.
Naeem Bukhari argued that the Qatari letter should be disregarded from the proceedings as it was presented by prime minister Nawaz Sharif and not by PTI. He claimed that by ignoring the letter, it would be obvious that Sharif family purchased London flats.
To this, Justice Asif Khosa said that the letter could not be disregarded from the proceedings as the Sharif family solely relied on the letter and it endorsed the stance of PM’s children but Bukhari stated that there was a conflict between the statements of Nawaz Sharif and Qatari letter.
Justice Azmat Saeed told PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari that he should avoid giving sweeping statements as the court and plaintiff wanted to know the actual truth and so the party should present evidence.
In his quintessential witty tone, Bukhari expressed that the Qatari letter submitted in 2016 harked back to the memories of 1980. He mentioned that there was a conflict between the statements of Nawaz Sharif and his children regarding investments.
Naeem referred to the interview of Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of Nawaz Sharif in which she stated that the London flats were purchased to provide accommodation for their children who were studying there.
Replying to this, Justice Khosa said that it looked as if Hassan Nawaz was unemployed till 1999.
Naeem went on throwing barbs at the Sharif family and submitted an interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif that she gave in 2011 in which she categorically admitted that her brothers refrained from taking part in politics.
He expressed that Maryam in her interview denied having any property in Pakistan as well as outside Pakistan adding she admitted living ith her father Nawaz Sharif.
PTI’s counsel maintained that Hassan Nawaz in his interview to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) expressed that the money for payment of rent was sent from Pakistan while avoiding the question related to the ownership of the London flats by saying ‘This question is unrelated to me’.
Naeem kept on quoting this interview and added that Hassan Nawaz had admitted to living like an ordinary student in London without being employed. He maintained that Nawaz Sharif borrowed Rs. 740 million from Hussain Nawaz during 2011 to 2015 and did not pay tax on that money.
Justice Asif Khosa went on to say that Hussain Nawaz in his interview said that his brother Hassan was doing business in London from last 21 years. However, Hassan in his interview in 1999 had said that he was a student.
Naeem kept pressing his viewpoint regarding the conflicting statements of Sharif family and detailed that Hussain Nawaz said that Maryam was a trustee of offshore companies Nescol and Nielson adding that Hassan admitted having three offshore companies.
He maintained that the premier revealed giving money to his children for business in 2006 but Hussain said that he had actually only given money to Hassan. Naeem said that reports regarding Panama Leaks began surfacing in March, February last year and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has admitted the truth of Panama Leaks when it issued notices to individuals.
PTI’s counsel argued that Nawaz Sharif had said in an interview that he detached himself from family business in 1997 adding that the premier never said that the property belonged to Hussain Nawaz in his speeches.
Naeem Bukhari maintained that Hussain Nawaz in his interview admitted to ownership of London flats. He also submitted the interview of Hussain Nawaz that he gave on March 7, 2016.
Justice Asif Khosa also inquired that Nawaz Sharif had said that the factories of Sharif families were shut down by Musharraf, then how come he set up another factory in Jeddah. He went on and said that the financial advisor of Sharif family claimed to have kept the record of transactions which would be handed over to lawyers but the lawyers admitted having no record.
Naeem kept on with his arguments and said that the 34 million Dollars in the purview of Al-Taufeeq case should have been submitted by Al-Thani family as the property was owned by them. To this, Justice Azmat Saeed said:
‘Who and how the 34 million Dollars were paid’?
PTI’s counsel claimed that Mian Shareef, Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz Sharif, Hamza Shehbaz, Maryam Nawaz and Shamim Akhter were among the directors of Hudaibia paper mills.
Justice Asif Khosa remarked that the court wanted to know the duration for which Hassan Nawaz was in London as a student and whether he managed the money for business by himself or it was sent from Pakistan.
Naeem claimed that the premier Nawaz Sharif mentioned Maryam Nawaz as his dependent in 2011 tax returns however, Justice Khosa observed that the premier mentioned Maryam as his dependent before and after 2011 as well.
During the last hearing on Wednesday, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa announced that the apex court had decided to hear the case on daily basis adding that there would be no delay regarding the proceedings. The apex court also sought details regarding services of PM Nawaz on key official positions.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is the head of the bench while Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ejazul Hasan are its members.
The Prime Minister and his children have changed their legal team in the Panama Leaks case. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will now be represented by Makhdoom Ali Khan, meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar will be represented by Shahid Hamid and Salman Akram Raja will represent Hussain Nawaz.
On Wednesday, PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari alleged premier Nawaz Sharif of tax evasion and sought his disqualification. He also claimed that the affidavit by Tariq Shafi, cousin of Shehbaz Sharif was fake.
He said that the premier was no longer trustworthy as he made false statements and should be disqualified, adding that Prime Minister himself claimed having documentary evidence related to investment in Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
He went on to say that Maryam Nawaz was made the beneficial owner of offshore companies contrary to the claims of Sharif family, adding that Maryam Nawaz, along with her brothers Hassan and Hussain, had made false statements.
He accused premier of evading tax and sought his disqualification, stating that NAB chairman had failed to perform his duties. Naeem maintained that the apex court should advise NAB to file an appeal regarding the decision of Lahore High Court in favour of Sharif family. Naeem also claimed that London flat no. 17A was bought on May 7, 1993.
To this, Justice Asif Khosa remarked that both FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) and NAB (National Accountability Bureau) stated that the matter was out of their domain for any action. He expressed that the Supreme Judicial Council could be contacted for any action against Chairman NAB.
Justice Khosa also observed that there should be no press conference within the premises of apex court. He said that the reply by premier’s sons stated that the London flats belonged to Al.Thani family but no document was presented in this regard.