Panama leaks hearing: PML-N peeved by judges’ remarks

PTI ditches plan to nominate Shahbaz Sharif as a party in Panamagate case

Hasnaat Malik November 12, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is still in a fluster over the probing remarks of judges in the Panamagate case.

A senior PML-N leader told The Express Tribune on Saturday that the party wanted to transfer the case from a five-member larger bench to a one-judge commission, as proposed by the court itself.

The party leader said that although they believe the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has no evidence against the prime minister and his family, they are increasingly worried by how the previous proceedings have played out: the court, for instance, asked the Sharif family to prove that their acquisition of foreign properties was legal.

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, a member of the five-judge bench who is regarded as an expert in criminal trial matters, asked the PML-N’s legal team to satisfy the judges regarding the money’s legality during the previous hearing. He also cited the verdict in the case against former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, in which he was convicted.

A PML-N leader admitted that the party chiefs are visibly upset by the judges’ observations.

Similarly, the chief justice cited the example of the second Caliph Hazrat Umar (RA) and said: “Accountability of the ruler is different from others.” Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh asked the Sharif family’s counsel that his clients should prove they had lawfully acquired foreign properties.

On the other hand, a senior lawyer belonging to the PML-N was not happy with the strategy of the PM’s legal team. He said that the team should have aggressively presented their case.

In view of the bench’s observations, the PML-N leadership contacted senior lawyer Khawaja Haris, asking him to join the legal team of the Sharif family. Khawaja Haris had already represented the prime minister in the hijacking case against the PM.

PTI drops plan for now

For the time being, the PTI legal team has dropped the idea of making Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif a party in the case.

A senior PTI leader said that the team had discussed the possibility, because there was a judgment of a foreign court against him.

According to him, the London High Court’s 1999 decision in the Al-Towfeek Investment Fund case was most convincing and irrefutable documentary evidence. He said that it proved the Sharif’s association with London flats, which the PM’s children claimed they bought in 2006.

A source, however, said that the PTI was considering naming Shahbaz Sharif a party in the Panamagate scandal through other petitioners.

On the other hand, PTI leaders are disappointed by the party’s legal team for not nominating the Punjab CM as a party in the case. A PTI lawyer pointed out that although Hamid Khan was arguing the case, the main petition was drafted by someone else.

A senior leader said that Hamid Khan will appear on behalf of the PTI chief and Sikandar Bashir will represent Jahangir Tareen in petitions against PML-N leaders, seeking their disqualification as members of the National Assembly for concealing sources in their income tax returns.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) also started deliberations for submitting its reply in petitions against the PML-N leaders.

A senior official said that the FBR had issued notices to both respondents but they did not file their responses, adding that the same will be communicated to the apex court.

The FBR is also examining whether or not Jemima Goldsmith – Imran’s first wife – filed her income tax returns.

In his 2002 nomination papers, Imran Khan had declared Jemima as a dependent.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2016.


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