ISLAMABAD – It might seem a coincidence but the political fate of three of the political bigwigs Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, PTI chairman Imran Khan and PML-N senator Nehal Hashmi who kept exciting the television screen would be decided on a single day, July 10.
The political storm stirred in political corridors after the Panama Leaks surfaced last year is nearing completion as the six-member Joint Investigation Team tasked to investigate the offshore assets of Sharif family would complete its proceedings on July 10, but the day has become more pivotal as Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to announce the verdict in the contempt of court case against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan the same day.
Not only that, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has also announced that it would indict PML-N senator Nehal Hashmi for his threatening speech against those conducting probe of the first family on July 10 too.
On Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan gave Imran Khan a ‘last chance’ to file his reply in the contempt of court case after the PTI counsel had said Imran was out of the city.
During the hearing, PTI counsel Shahid Gondal informed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan that Imran has finalised his reply but will submit it after consultations with Babar Awan, a lawyer who recently joined the party.
The CEC took aim at the PTI counsel’s ‘excuses’, saying the respondent continues to change lawyers, adding that Awan was not registered as a counsel for the PTI chairman.
He further said that Imran Khan made the same excuse [of being out of city] at the last hearing as well after which he was given a ‘last’ chance.
“We do not need his [Imran] reply and will announce our verdict at the next hearing,” said the CEC and adjourned the hearing till July 10 after repeated requests for more time from Gondal.
The contempt proceedings against the PTI chief started after Khan accused the ECP of political bias in the case against the PTI’s ‘foreign funding’ initiated on the petition of disgruntled former party leader Akbar Babar.
On the other hand, the landmark Panama case is going to wind up in a matter of few days as the Supreme Court of Pakistan had set a deadline of July 10 for the Joint Investigation Team to conclude its investigations.
The high-powered JIT has already grilled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif, PM’s son-in-law and cousin Captain Safdar and Tariq Shafi.
Moreover, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also made his first appearance before the team on Monday following the session of Hassan Nawaz, who made three appearances before the team.
Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of the premier, also appeared at the federal judicial academy, designated as the Secretariat of JIT, for the sixth time on Tuesday.
Maryam Nawaz, the prime minister’s daughter, would also make a maiden appearance before JIT on Wednesday.
The issue of Nehal Hashmi, who in his threatening speech in May warned those investigating Sharif family of dire consequences, would also most likely be concluded next week.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan was enraged during the last hearing on June 23 after the senator failed to appear in person before the bench, remarking that the PML-N stalwart would be indicted on the next hearing scheduled for July 10.
Hashmi in his speech that led to his expulsion from his party warning rivals and ‘some honourable officials associated with top institutions’ of dire consequences if they continued their concerns with the accountability of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Whoever is asking for accountability will retire tomorrow and we will deal with them,” insinuated Hashmi in a veiled threat to the top judiciary currently probing the ruling Sharif family in the backdrop of Panama papers.
“Those grilling… [be warned that] we will arrange the day of judgment for you.”
“You are making the life of the prime minister difficult. The Pakistani nation will make it difficult for you to live,” he added, without taking any names.
It appears that the next week would dawn with sensation, revelations and setbacks or respite for major political figures gearing up to face each other’s rivals in General Elections 2018.
The next Monday might turn blue or black for the political luminaries and their respective supporters.