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Thursday Apr 20, 2017

PM vows to implement Panama verdict 'in letter and spirit'


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vowed to implement ‘in letter and spirit’ the verdict of Panama Leaks case, in which the apex court ordered further investigations into corruption allegations.

The allegations were levelled by the opposition against the premiere but the Supreme Court in its verdict concluded there was insufficient evidence to order his removal from office.

Reacting to apex court’s decision, Prime Minister said that he had put himself before the court’s mercy and Allah made him successful.

Maryam Nawaz, the Prime Minister's daughter, tweeted photographs of Sharif in a celebratory mood with his family, embracing his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

Another picture showed the Prime Minister with Shehbaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam, Senator Pervaiz Rashid, and other senior PML-N leaders.

Speaking to Geo News in London, the prime minister's son Hasan Nawaz thanked God for the decision.

Announcing the verdict, Justice Khosa ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation team (JIT) to carry out an investigation into how funds were transferred to Qatar, which the Prime Minister's children said led to assets held by his sons through the offshore businesses in Panama.

"A thorough investigation is required," Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said, announcing the highly anticipated decision following a months-long hearing stemming from the Panama Papers leak last year that linked PM Sharif´s children to offshore businesses.

The Supreme Court ordered the JIT to present its report every two weeks before a Supreme Court bench. The court also ordered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and his sons Hasan and Hussein to appear before the JIT as and when required, which will complete its investigation within 60 days of its formation.

It further adds, that after receiving the JIT reports, periodic or final, the matter of disqualification of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif shall be considered.

The detailed decision by the apex court comprised over 540 pages, with the verdict split 3-2 between the five-member apex court bench.

Eagerly-anticipated verdict

The controversy that locally became known as the Panama Leaks erupted with the publication of the so-called Panama Papers last year when 11.5 million secret documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca which documented the offshore dealings of many of the world's rich and powerful were leaked online.

Among the global elite implicated were three of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's – his daughter Maryam, and his sons Hasan and Hussein.

At the heart of the matter was the legitimacy of the funds used by the Prime Minister's children to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies.

Sharif's ruling PML-N party had insisted the wealth was acquired legally through family businesses in Pakistan and the Gulf.

But the opposition parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), argued the paper trail for the funds was non-existent, and that the onus was on PM Nawaz Sharif to prove his relatives did not engage in money laundering.

The case took the country by storm and dominated headlines in the country for over a year now, with all eyes set on the Supreme Court in Islamabad for the much-anticipated verdict.

Security had been beefed up around the Supreme Court at Islamabad's Constitution Avenue, with additional barriers placed and barbed wires laid around several buildings.

Around 1000 police, Rangers and security personnel were deployed inside and outside the apex court building. A senior police official said entry of irrelevant persons in the Red Zone was blocked, while VIPs' security guards would also not be able to carry arms with them.

Separately, around 2,500 police officers were deployed in the provincial capital Lahore ahead of the verdict, according to a Punjab police spokesperson. The security force included six superintendents, 29 deputy superintendents, 83 SHOs, 165 upper subordinates, and around 2,400 lower subordinates.






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