ISLAMABAD: Visibly anxious and unsettled the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan could hardly hide his emotions in the courtroom-one, as judges kept snubbing the party’s lead lawyer for his grandiloquence during Thursday’s proceedings of Panama Leaks case.
Escorted by his close associates, Imran took a seat in the front row in the jam-packed courtroom to witness the proceedings. Jahangir Tareen and Naeemul Haq initially took seats on his right and left. As the proceedings progressed, his counsel Hamid Khan read out three speeches of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif verbatim in an effort to prove contradictions in various claims of the Sharif family.
As soon as the PTI counsel completed reading the script, Hamid Khan faced what he had not expected; judges started admonishing him for not being incisive. Perturbed by what was unfolding, the PTI chief left his seat at least four times and stood behind his legal team fighting the case.
By this time Tareen and Haq were replaced by Shireen Mazari and Babar Awan. The scene of the PTI legal team being censured by the judges put smiles on the faces of cabinet members and other leaders of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who had taken seats on the right side of the room.
Interestingly, there are no seat reservations in the courtroom but the members of the PML-N and the rival PTI have been sitting respectively on the right and lefts sides of the room for the past three hearings. This seating arrangement resembles the division of benches in parliament.
While Imran Khan was already unable to subdue his anxiety, irascible Mazari and Awan also kept whispering in his ears. Amid all this, the judges announced to adjourn the hearing till November 30 and Imran was heard saying “two weeks!”
Hamid Khan’s stance
Head of the PTI’s legal team in Panamagate case, Hamid Khan, on Thursday said the last proceedings into the case had exerted ‘undue pressure’ on the PTI and its lawyers’ team.
This ‘pressure’, he said, is built up by the ‘irresponsible’ reporting of the event by the media, which has been making headlines out of ‘selected’ observations and the apex court’s decision to hear a constitutional matter in a great hurry.
“Such [constitutional] matters take relatively longer time to decide. It’s not a criminal case that is decided on fast pace,” Hamid Khan said while talking to The Express Tribune.
The counsel said he would suggest the court to impose a ban on careless coverage of this important matter. Media should only be allowed to report when the judges pass some order in writing to avoid haste and confusion like situation.
Hamid said he had not been conveyed any reservation by the party chairman Imran Khan about his performance on Thursday, adding: “If case proceeds further in such a manner in coming days then I will take some decision myself”.
Following Thursday’s proceedings the PTI’s legal team earned flak from several quarters. Even Imran Khan and top leadership was not convinced over the presentation of the case by Hamid Khan and his team.
In a hurriedly called meeting at Imran Khan’s residence in Bani Gala the issue also came under discussion. “It has been decided that Hamid Khan would continue to lead the case in the court during next hearings,” a senior legal team member said. “But the PTI will definitely revise and reconsider its strategy.”
Imran’s press conference
Talking to media outside his residence in Bani Gala Imran Khan claimed that PTI was satisfied with the SC’s proceedings so far. “You will be astonished but we are satisfied from today’s proceedings of the SC. Even I am optimistic more than ever before about potential outcome of the case,” Imran said.
The PTI chief claimed that judges wanted to conclude this case at the earliest and they were pushing for it. “Their remarks are encouraging not only for the PTI but for all Pakistanis,” he added.
He said it was a momentous occasion as it had never happened in Pakistan’s history that court asked chief executive of the country to inform about his family’s wealth and assets. “We took to the streets and we did long struggle to witness this day where court has been questioning a sitting PM.”
Imran mentioned a couple of observations passed by the judges against the PML-N, adding that the debate was still left on a supporting letter written by Qatari prince. “You will see a number of stunning revelations will come out and PM will have to answer a lot of questions in coming days,” he said.
Imran criticised presence of a large number of cabinet members and the PM’s advisers in the courtroom saying, “It’s a family case, which is purely related to Sharif family.”
Justifying his decision of not attending Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan’s address to parliament, Imran said he did so “to avoid a ruckus in the house”.
“Our activists, especially those from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were agitated at the government’s treatment toward them [during their attempt to reach the federal capital to stage a sit-in]
“Our boycott was in no way a boycott of the Turkish president as Turkey and Pakistan and people of the two countries have historic connections,” he added.
He said judges wanted to decide the case at the earliest and that was why Hamid Khan was not given enough time to prove his argument regarding PM’s family contradiction. “It’s just start of a match,” he said, informing the media that he would leave for UK today (Friday) to see his sons there. [WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM NEWS DESK]
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2016.