Panamagate case: Babar Awan as lead counsel runs into opposition

Many PTI leader also fear Awan’s entry may result in their sidelining

Danish Hussain/Hasnaat Malik November 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: After Hamid Khan declined to continue as the lead counsel to present the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the Panamagate case, the party’s legal team is in a state of disarray as its members are reluctant to give Babar Awan the role of a new captain.

The PTI insider said Imran Khan is interested in nominating Awan as the main counsel, but he is facing immense resistance from many of his close aides including his legal team.  However, the final decision regarding the selection will be taken after his return from London on Tuesday (today).

PTI lead counsel Hamid Khan recuses himself in Panamagate case

The sources revealed that the PTI’s legal team members – comprising Hamid Khan, Ahmad Awais and Naeem Bukhari – have refused to accept Awan as their captain in the Panama leaks case. One of the PTI’s legal team members has confirmed that the team has decided not to work with Awan.

An influential group of PTI leaders is also expressing reservations over his entry as the lead counsel. They are afraid that Awan may overshadow the senior party members as he did during the previous government of the Pakistan People Party (PPP) whose most senior leaders had to take the back seat after Babar developed close ties with former president Asif Zardari, the sources said.


Imran plays truant in lower house

A senior PTI leader said Babar might be a competent lawyer but his sour relationship with the bench is something that goes against him. “We want a lawyer who should have good reputation both with the bench and the bar.”

The top court had suspended the practicing licence of Awan for allegedly uttering derogatory words against the court. The court had also initiated contempt proceedings against him for ridiculing the court after initial proceedings in Memogate case petitions.

Babar Awan had objected to the court’s order to nominate the Federal Investigating Agency’s (FIA) former director general Tariq Khosa as head of the commission for probing the scandal.

“Khosa is a sibling of one of the members of the larger bench hearing Panamagate,” said the senior PTI leader. “The contempt case against him is still sub judice before the apex court.”

Hamid Khan, who has long political affiliation with the PTI, has suggested the party leadership to nominate Naeem Bukhari to argue the matter before the larger bench. Bukhari has also got wakalatnama from PTI chief to plead his case in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Imran upbeat despite anxious moments

A senior PTI leader said names of senior lawyers – Aitzaz Ahsan, Farogh Nasim and Anwar Mansoor Khan – are also under discussion but they are facing difficulty in selecting a suitable lawyer to lead the legal team in Panama leaks case due to different reasons.

He said many professional lawyers avoid engaging themselves in cases of political nature – a situation which further narrows the choices the PTI has in the middle of the proceedings.

Media pressure on the legal team and expectations of the PTI is another reason that many law experts are reluctant to join in. Likewise, trust on the lawyer is also an important factor in such matters.

Some legal experts believe that fate of cases of political nature hinges more upon the judges’ cognizance of material provided to them than competence of lawyers.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2016.

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