Perhaps, it is little surprise that by the end of Monday the July 17th the Panama Papers case is a knotted and unresolved basket of conflicting claims and counterclaims. The case in the Supreme Court where there had been an expectation of a finding on the basis of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report is now adjourned until the July 18th, and there has to be a low expectation of anything definitive emerging by close of play today either.
The JIT report was not easy reading for any of those that were investigated. It must be remembered — and is often forgotten — that the PM was not mentioned in the original Panama Papers leaks but members of his extended family were. It must also be remembered that nowhere in the JIT report is it stated that public money was ‘looted’ — as in stolen — from the national exchequer by any of those named therein. There is copious evidence — allegedly — of shady financial dealings stretching back decades by members of the Sharif family. There are mountains of questions about how and where their wealth was acquired, their business practices and the practices of those they interact with financially — and all would make interesting reading, if clearly and unequivocally established beyond any shadow of doubt.
Those caught in the tangle — which they seek assiduously to extend and complicate still further — have no intention of ever allowing any shadow of doubt to lengthen to the point at which it threatens their positions, now or in the future. The extended Sharif family may or may not have been involved in money laundering, the forging of documents relative to the purchase of properties in London, UK, and a host of other shady activities that may or may not be legal within this country or elsewhere in the world — but the hardest of realities is that the likelihood of the common man ever seeing a clear-cut decision one way or the other is remote indeed. There are enough loopholes in the JIT report for the lawyers of all sides to be submitting their bills for years to come. The PM is going nowhere other than safely home to his bed, there to smile in his sleep.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2017.
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