While confusion and contradictions shrouded its beginning, the ‘end’ also remains shrouded in uncertainty. The Panama case – as opposed to most of the people’s expectations – is neither a clean chit nor a disqualification.
The citizens find themselves confused and unclear as to what this legally convoluted and complex decision – that apparently does nothing substantial in the eyes of common people – could mean for the people involved in it or politics in general.
On the other hand, It seems the verdict remains what the political parties take out of it to suit their interests.
What is it then?
We reached out to prominent legal expert, advocate of Supreme Court and Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council, Azam Nazeer Tarrar.
Talking to Daily Pakistan, Tarrar pointed out that the verdict declares victory for no party as the resolution of the case remains pending and unresolved.
“The supreme court, while avoiding direct involvement in the probe, has overtly held the Prime Minister responsible and accountable for answering all the accusations and proving his innocence,” Tarrar said.
He explained that the apex court has also stated that the property belonging to PM’s sons – as shown in the 1990s – doesn’t seem to be belong to them as they ‘are too young for them’.
“The supreme court has also declared that there is no proof and transparency regarding the establishment of a factory in Jeddah that was sold. It also asked as to where was the money used after selling out the factory.”
He explained that the apex court has also asked as to how some shares got converted into giant properties. “The supreme concluded that the presence of the Qatari king in the story doesn’t fit well and demand concrete answers.”
“The court wanted to distinguish between myth and reality and thus – instead of investigating directly – called for a Joint Investigation team. They wanted NAB’s chairman to head it but after listening to him, they changed their minds,” Tarrar added.
He said the JIT is to include officials from NAB, FIA, the State Bank of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and will be led by an assistant director general-level officer from the FIA. The JIT would be formed within 7 days.
Tarrar said that the court has also requested the chief justice to form a special bench that will supervise the investigation. The JIT will be bound to presenting its report before the honourable court after every 14 days. After 60 days, the court will be able to pass any final verdict.
Powers of JIT
Tarrar said that the JIT has been given a special mandate that allows it to probe literally anyone that is found with any connection with the case.
“Any person associated with the case will be bound to the JIT to submit all the relevant documents.” He said it’s a historic decision as the court has given a fair opportunity to the Sharif family to prove its innocence.
“If the JIT findings are not sufficient to prove his innocence, the court will then disqualify the PM under article 62 and 63. And under the NAB laws, there would be criminal proceedings against him,” he added.
How will JIT work? Will it really be able to investigate an influential figure like PM of the country?
“The case is still alive and we should be optimistic about it. Nowhere in the history did apex court unnecessarily shut the pending case,” Tarrar responded.
He contended that there are two considerable points:
- Periodical nature of the investigation bounds the JIT to submit interim reports to the special bench formed by CJP after every 14 days. The bench will oversee the affairs and examine reports.
“The investigation will take place under the umbrella of state and public officials. JIT cannot be influenced by personal servants,” Tarrar said adding that this is a positive thing and there is no valid reason to doubt it.
- There should be a moral burden on the premier to be as impartial as possible. He can take several measures – including leaving the public office for these 60 days – to find ways to restore his dignity and honour.
“The PM should ask his legal team to read and study the verdict and take a decision for the betterment of country”
The property belongs to children, will the PM still be disqualified if his children are convicted?
“His children do not hold any public office,” points out Tarrar. He said the question is not only about the ownership of property, the apex court finds it pertinent that the details about these properties be made public as it’s a right of the common people under the Article 19-A to know about it.
“People have the right to question their prime minister’s wealth and assets.”
“He was a prime minister when his children got that overwhelmingly expensive property, so it’s only him who will be disqualified,” said Tarrar adding there can be criminal proceedings under the section 9 of NAB laws against his children.
How safe it Mariam Nawaz Sharif?
“The court has deliberately left an open end to the case. The JIT will have powers to probe anyone found with any connection with the alleged corruption,” Tarrar answered adding the concluding remarks of the verdict focus more on PM’s two sons.
He said it is upon the JIT if they will involve Mariam or not.
“It’s a historic decision, it should be cherished and celebrated”
Reacting to the disappointment of many people, Tarrar said it’s a landmark verdict. It will set the trajectory and direction for future proceedings.
“The verdicts of the supreme court are used as an example for decades, it would have been unfair and unprofessional to disqualify PM before any further investigation.”
He said the JITs are constituted of experts and investigators from different organisations and departments. “It is not supreme court’s job to do investigations but to allow and ensure fair investigations.”