ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday landed in Lahore to brainstorm on ‘issues’ concerning the proceedings of the joint investigation team (JIT) probing Sharif family’s offshore properties, with his top aides from the PML-N’s Punjab chapter, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Premier Sharif flew back to Islamabad on Friday night from Astana after the completion of his visit to Kazakhstan where he participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, and then proceeded to Lahore on Saturday.
According to sources, the purpose of Prime Minister Sharif’s stay in Lahore was mainly to discuss with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif the course of JIT’s proceedings and the legal defence the ruling lot has so far put up before the probe body.
The development portrays the likelihood that the prime minister would be summoned by the JIT in the coming days and the top PML-N leadership is weighing all options accordingly to present its side before the inquiry panel.
This is Sharif’s second visit to Punjab’s provincial capital in less than a week reportedly to discuss developments related to JIT investigations. He previously visited Lahore on June 5.
The sources further revealed that the PML-N leadership has heeded to the advice of its legal wizards that the Sharif family should adopt a uniform stance before the JIT in order to avoid any kind of contradictions in a bid to strengthen their case.
“PM’s sons and cousin have appeared before the JIT. Hussain Nawaz appeared before the panel five times, Hassan Nawaz twice and Tariq Shafi once. They have been interrogated in detail. Their stance should not be in contradiction with that of Mian Sahib when he appears before the inquiry panel and answers questions related to offshore properties,” said a PML-N lawmaker, requesting anonymity.
“The versions of all the Sharif family members recorded or to be recorded before the JIT need to complement each other. This is the only way to give credence to our defence in the inquiry. Any contradictions, anomalies or discrepancies are going to cost us dearly,” the source said, adding that the PM and the Punjab CM would review in detail the statements of the Sharif family members to be made before the JIT today (Sunday).
Recently, leaders of the PML-N Punjab chapter, who were previously silent over the developments linked to the JIT, started appearing in the media with hard-hitting statements against the inquiry panel. These include top leaders like the Punjab CM and provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.
Party insiders said the PM, during his previous visit to Lahore, instructed the provincial chapter to join the central party leaders in adopting a tough stance regarding the JIT following which the Punjab chapter “swung into action” in what comes as a change in the ruling party’s policy which was recently mulling over mending fences with the probe body.
A few days back, the PML-N leadership barred its members from making strong statements against the JIT after the Supreme Court rejected the petitions of Hussain and Shafi to change JIT’s formation, and ordered the petitioners to act in compliance with the JIT probe. However, after a recent photograph of Hussain during JIT interrogation went viral, the ruling party has reverted to its policy to take on the JIT.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the Punjab’s law minister attempted to dispel the impression that the PM was in Lahore regarding the Panamagate probe.
“The whole world does not revolve around Panama Leaks probe. Nawaz Sharif is the prime minister of Pakistan and Lahore is his ancestral home. If he is visiting Lahore over the weekend, which he often does, it should not raise eyebrows. A number of political issues, development ventures and administrative matters usually come under review during the PM’s visit,” Sanaullah said.