ISLAMABAD: The government has failed to convince Prince Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al Thani of Qatar to testify before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing into the offshore properties of the Sharif family.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Pakistan’s former attorney general Salman Aslam Butt and former chief of the defunct Ehtesab Bureau Saifur Rehman had been tasked to convince the Qatari royal to visit Pakistan for recording his statement before the JIT.
Subsequently, Butt had visited Qatar last week while Rehman is already stationed in the Arab state. However, both have failed to convince the prince, who had provided two letters to establish the money trail for the Sharif’s London properties during the hearing of the Panamagate case before the Supreme Court.
The JIT had sent two letters to the Qatari prince last month. In his reply, the prince had stated that he stood by the statement given in his letters presented before the Supreme Court.
However, a senior PML-N lawyer said the letter would not be enough to prove the money trial until the prince recorded his statement.
“The family has only less than a month to convince al Thani to record his statement,” he said, adding that Butt and Rehman were still making efforts to convince him to appear before the JIT via video link.
He said the legal team was also evolving an alternate strategy in case al Thani chose not to appear.
“Khawaja Haris advocate, who is supervising the family affairs before the JIT, will definitely make a plan to deal with the prevailing situation,” he added without going into detail.
A senior lawyer, who was part of the Sharifs’ legal team in the past, said no one could bind a foreigner to record a statement under the law. However, the top court has already asked the JIT to disregard the Qatari prince’s letter if he does not appear in person before the panel.
“The respondents [Sharif family] will have to face consequences if the prince fails to appear before the JIT,” the apex court’s three-judge bench had recently observed.
Meanwhile, sources said the JIT is considering summoning Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the coming weeks.
In compliance with the Supreme Court’s order, the JIT has submitted a separate application to highlight the problems it has been facing during the investigation of the Sharifs’ offshore businesses.
The application has been submitted by the JIT’s head Wajid Zia to the Supreme Court’s registrar. Legal experts say the ‘impediments’ the JIT has complained about relate to some departments that are not cooperating with the JIT.
The JIT will submit its reply with regard to Hussain Nawaz’s plea to direct the JIT members to ‘immediately’ stop video recording of the JIT proceedings on Monday.
Hussain had also requested the Supreme Court to constitute an ‘independent commission’ headed by a retired or a sitting judge of the apex court to probe into the circumstances leading to the leak of his photograph on social media. The apex court’s three-judge special bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, will take up Hussain’s plea tomorrow (Monday).
According to a source, the SC administration has taken special security measures for safe custody of the record related to investigation in the Panamagate case. A camera has been installed at the record room of the Registrar Office, which no is authorised to visit, except for the registrar.
The PTI is also said to be preparing a petition along with complete record to prove that the PML-N leadership is involved in campaigning against the apex court and the JIT. The petition will be filed on Monday.