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Thursday Dec 01, 2016

Panama Leaks case: Live from the courtroom

Panama Leaks case: Live from the courtroom

ISLAMABAD: PTI’s strategy to change its lead counsel worked out. Naeem Bukhari lived up to Imran Khan’s expectations. Khan sprung a trump card again on Thursday. Or did he?

It all depends on how Sharifs’ legal team responds to the opponents on December 6. However, it saved the moment for PTI Chairman Imran Khan who kept whispering and helping his lead lawyer.

But the danger is not over yet. Both, the complainants and the respondents, would have to show their best cards. Worthy judges and PTI’s legal team put more than a dozen tough and tricky questions for the Sharif counsels Akram Sheikh and Salman Butt.

As the clock struck 9:30 AM silence engulfed the atmosphere. The judges took over their seats at 9:32 AM. Proceedings started with the usual enthusiasm. The crew of media, diplomats, politicians, civil servants, and lawyers flooded the heavily guarded court premises in the foothills of Margalla on a slightly cold morning.

Soon after judges took their seats it was Naeem Bukhari who came up with solid arguments, taking over the rostrum. Then he abruptly started posing tough questions to his opponents. At many points judges endorsed his arguments and told the respondents’ Counsels to get prepared to answer all these complicated questions.

 For the first time since Panama Leaks case began the faces of PTI top leadership bloomed. This special moment found the Sharif’s legal team and scores of cabinet members melancholy.

Bukhari with his assistant corporate lawyer Maleeka Bokhari continued his arguments for 208 long minutes. During these moments Imran Khan left his chair many times and went to rostrum, whispering time and again into his ears. He continued encouraging Mr Bukhari and sometimes himself handed over the relevant documents to his legal team.

During the course of hearing everybody looked super serious. Sitting next to Mr Chaudhry, MNA Munaza Hassan sucked on a cough lozenge. Another lawyer predicted, that a case will likely be handed over to a proposed judicial commission.

 As Bukhari engaged the courtroom with his prolonged arguments a few of top court's ushers wearing green long gowns were found napping. Some diverted their attention to the portraits, name boards of all chief justices and hundreds of books on law.

Exchange of arguments between Naeem Bukhari and worthy judges continued. Many men from the Special Branch kept occupying seats for government’s legislatures, while PTI workers also followed their footsteps to secure the slightly reddish-brown comfortable chairs for their leaders.

Sitting in the front row, just three chairs away from PTI Chairman, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also gave some instructions to Salman Butt during the tea break. The entire team of PML-N leaders was seen in a state of shock when one of the judges asked Bukhari to prove the trust deed of Maryam Nawaz. The burden of proof shifted to the respondents to get away with it.

Bukhari took all the questions from the plethora of documents submitted by the Sharif counsels Akram Sheikh and Salman Butt in support of their clients.

Silence engulfed the courtroom once again. Imran Khan left the seat again and again. He even stood near the rostrum when the judges questioned how the PM`s daughter become a beneficiary of Nielsen and Nescoll, the companies registered by Minerva Trust & Corporate Services Ltd.

“Sheikh Sahib you will have to answer all the tricky questions put up by Mr Bukhari,” Justice Azmat Saeed told Sharif’s counsel.

“My lords I will,” responded Akram Sheikh who looked very friendly to the opponents.

Bukhari looked serious, except at a moment when he amused the judges saying, “I’m not a prince but I look like a prince.”

Sheikh stood up three times and guided his colleagues involved in debate where journalists continued to put their ears on badly disturbed sound system, reserved for them, to hear well-articulated arguments presented by Bukhari, who made good of the damage many in PTI believe was done by their first lawyer Hamid Khan. But Hamid told a different story.

“We presented these documents and yes we have the answer,” Akram Sheikh told this correspondent.

Some said it was PTI’s day but majority believed because Sharifs’ counsels are waiting their turn to argue with next Tuesday in the courtroom. Interestingly, many witnessed Minister of States for Science and Technology taking notes on her official diary with a green inked pen soon after Khawaja Asif left the courtroom at 11:35am.

“Submitted documents, PM’s speeches and his children’s different interviews contradicted each other,” the court observed.

Once again a heated moment came when judges observed the respondents were hiding some documents from the court. Then judges asked Naeem Bukhari to resume his argument on December 6 and the proceeding adjourned.



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