ISLAMABAD: The counsel for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Naeem Bukhari is presenting his arguments in favour of the Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report in the Supreme Court.
The special three-member implementation bench began proceedings of the high-profile case a little after 9:30am.
In his initial arguments, Bukhari said the Sharif family has failed to prove their statements regarding the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai.
The Gulf Steel Mills was not sold for 33 million Dirhams nor was the payment of 12 million Dirhams to Qatarâs Al-Thani family proved by the respondents, he said.
He added that the UAE justice ministry did not verify the April 14, 1980 transaction of Gulf Steel Mills.
Bukhari also reiterated several other points raised by the investigators in their final report.
In between the PTI counselâs statements, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench, said as Shehbaz Sharif appeared in front of the JIT as a witness, his statement can only be used to identify discrepancies.
Terming the Qatari letter a concocted tale, Bukhari said the London properties have been in possession of the Sharif family since day one. He informed that the JIT was given documents from a respondent. When Justice Ijazul Ahsan inquired whether they are certified, the PTI counsel replied in the negative.
Taking his arguments further, Bukhari said the JIT wrote four letters to the Qatari prince to record his statement but the royal family member said he was not willing to accept the jurisdiction of Pakistani law. âEven the JIT stated in its report that it is not necessary to record his statement,â he said further.
Bukhari said the Nawaz Sharif is the chairman of the board of FZE Capital, adding that his signatures are on documents related to the company. Justice Saeed asked the PTI counsel if they documents were brought to Pakistan through mutual legal assistance or via sources. Bukhari replied that the JIT can answer that query.
Justice Ijaz asked if the premier received a salary for his services. “According to the records he received remuneration throughout but did not got a monthly salary,” he observed further.
The court then took a brief recess.Â Once the hearing resumed, Bukhari said thereâs a clear difference in the statements of the prime ministerâs son Hasan and Hussain.
The PTI counsel said the Sharif family owns assets beyond their means â the conclusion reached by the JIT in its final report.Â
In his comments, Justice Ejaz wondered if the JIT can trust the veracity of the documents delivered to it without knowing their source.Â
Earlier, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted their objections on the JIT report to the court. Sharif family’s counsel Khawaja Harris will later present his arguments against the JIT report.
The JIT, formed in light of the apex courtâs April 20 judgment to probe the Sharif familyâs money trail, submitted its 60-day investigation report to the court on July 10.
The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children own assets beyond their known sources of income.
Following the report’s submission, the special bench issued notices to all parties to submit their responses.Â
Strict security measures are in place in and around the Supreme Court in light of the much-anticipated hearing.
Around 700 policemen, along with Rangers personnel and officials of the local administration, have been deployed for the hearing.
Strict security measures were also seen around the Federal Judicial Academy, that served as the JIT secretariat, which led credence to reports that the six JIT members could also be attending today’s hearing.
Politicians from across the spectrum arrived at the apex court ahead of the high-profile hearing.Â
Informally beginning the dayâs events, Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid â one of the petitioners in the original Panama Papers case â addressed the media saying the entire nation stands behind the apex court. âIâll first see what the court says before submitting another petition to disqualify Nawaz Sharif,â he said.
Following Rashid, Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain spoke to the media. He said the Supreme Court is doing what the Parliament should have done. Â
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi also addressed the media after Hussain. He said PTI is among other opposition parties that are demanding the resignation of the prime minister. “The governmentâs strategy since day one has been to delay the proceedings,” he said while answering a question.
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, one of the petitioners in the case, said there is no hidden agenda here, the nation only wants a corruption-free country. “Nawaz Sharif has to go now, there is no other way. We want no one in Parliament who does not adhere to articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” he said. Â
The JI chief said they are hopeful that after this case, rule of law will be equal for all and others named in the Panama Leaks will be brought to book as well.Â
State minister Abid Sher Ali claimed the JIT has concoctions, not facts-based evidence. He criticised Sheikh Rashidâs political career, highlighting his role with as Nawaz Sharifâs aide before the Pervez Musharraf government.
âGod willing the apex court will decide the case on merit and not on Imran Khanâs wishes,â he said, adding that despite whatever happened âwe respect the honourable judgesâ.Â
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said it is not in Pakistanâs interest for the premier to stay in office for another day. âIt seems now the resignation will not be given but taken,â he added.Â
July 10 hearing
At the last hearing, the bench also sought from the government transcripts of speeches made by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Talal Chaudhry, Prime Ministerâs Political Secretary Asif Kirmani and Railways Minister Saad Rafique. Sources said those transcripts have been submitted to the apex court.
The special bench had also issued contempt of court notices to the editor, publisher and a reporter of The News directing them to submit their response in seven days.
Moreover, the bench directed the JIT head Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director Wajid Zia to publicly reveal the name of the person who leaked the interrogation picture of the premierâs son, Hussain Nawaz. On June 3, a picture of Hussain appearing before the JIT on May 28 was leaked to the media. In response, the JIT informed the court that it had taken action against the responsible official within 24 hours of the leak and sent him back to his parent department where action was taken against him.
The identity of the official has still not been made public.
Regarding Hussainâs plea to form a commission to probe his picture leak, the court, on July 10, left the matter to the government.