ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has held a highly classified meeting with his close legal aide and former attorney general Salman Aslam Butt in connection with documentation to establish the money trail of his family’s London properties.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the premier met Butt on Friday to get his legal assistance regarding the ongoing investigation by a joint investigation team (JIT) formed in the wake of the apex court verdict in Panamagate case to probe the Sharifs’ alleged graft.
Butt has been part of Sharif family’s legal team in the past and is known as the PM’s trustworthy aide.
He worked as the AGP for two years during the present regime of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Later, he was engaged as a private counsel by the PM in Panama leaks case last year. Butt is also close to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
He was the PM’s counsel who argued before the Supreme Court’s five-judge larger bench – headed by former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali – that earlier heard the Panamagate case.
The ruling family had, however, replaced him with Makhdoom Ali Khan after Butt told the bench that the PM’s statement, made on the floor of the house in April 2015 after the emergence of the Panama Papers about money trail of his family’s’ wealth and businesses, was a ‘political’ statement.
However, now the family has again sought his legal assistance to prove the money trail before the JIT.
Sources revealed that Butt had produced all the documents before the apex court to establish the money trail for acquiring the London flats. He was also in touch with Qatari family last year.
It was Butt, who had gone to Qatar and managed to get the first letter from Prince Hammad Bin Jassim. That letter, which was followed by another one, was submitted before the apex court during the course of hearing.
Butt had also submitted the PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi’s affidavit to prove the money trail. All initial written replies along with documents had been submitted by him before the Supreme Court.
“Now when the JIT is sending questionnaires to all relevant persons including the PM, his sons, Tariq Shafi and the Qatari Prince, the family has again sought his legal assistance for responding to the JIT,” said a senior PML-N leader, adding that Butt will be involved in answering these questionnaires.
He said Butt, who is residing in Lahore, will again come to Islamabad on Monday to discuss this issue with the ruling family. However, when The Express Tribune contacted the former AGP, he refused to share any details of his meeting with the premier.
The family was earlier taking legal assistance from senior lawyer Khawaja Haris, who already held a couple of meetings with them and gave his legal advice to deal with the JIT. Legal experts believe that entry of Salman Aslam Butt will also be significant in present time.
Sources said the ruling family is trying hard and evolving different strategies to get clearance from the JIT. The Supreme Court’s three-judge special bench – headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan – will consider first progress report of the JIT on May 22. The legal experts believe that this hearing will be significant.
Today (May 20) is the last day for filing review petition against the SC’s April 20 judgment in the Panamagate case. However, the family has not yet filed a review petition.
The legal team – including Makhdoom Ali Khan, Salman Akram Raja and Shahid Hamid, who represented the Sharif family in Panamagate case – has recommended them not to contest the apex court’s decision as they fear further complications.