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Monday Jul 17 2017

Panama case: Recap of Monday's proceedings

Courtroom No-II was packed on Monday morning, with people expecting history to repeat itself. Exactly 24 years ago, Nawaz Sharif was removed from office on almost the same charges he is facing today.

But the scenario is different this time, in 1993, the clash was between Nawaz and the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan which ultimately led to Nawaz’s ouster. Now, the premier has to contest corruption allegations in the court of law, with his children facing serious allegations.

Thousands wanted to witness the ‘historic’ even in the country’s top court, which was secured by 1,200 security personnel and three judges hearing the landmark case against the country’s incumbent premier.

Only around 400 people were able to enter the courtroom premises, but everyone had the same two questions. Will the Supreme Court summon Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to testify? Will the apex court give a declaration against Nawaz under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution?

All eyes were on the honourable judges, who did not pass any remark regarding the final report of the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT), consisting of 5,361 pages spread over ten volumes.

At 9:30am, Naeem Bukhari, counsel for the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf resumed his arguments on the JIT’s findings.

Bukhari, who seemed to be in a rush, concluded his arguments in a little over an hour. Those present in the courtroom questioned why he did not add anything new to the JIT report which otherwise endorsed the petitioner’s stance in the case.

The JIT report itself, relied on 92 per cent information which was previously known, 6pc was revealed through the Panama Papers while only roughly 2pc of the findings could be termed as new.

The JIT recommended re-opening of 15 out of 32 previous cases, which were either quashed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Supreme Court, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other courts.

New documents linked to Capital FZE, JAFZA and Hills Metals Establishment. Senior lawyers witnessing the proceedings seemed unanimous in their opinion, the cases might prove politically fatal for the prime minister if his legal team failed to defend them. It was also a test case for the petitioners, forcing them to produce evidence rather than take it as easy as they did in the past.

Imran Khan, chairman of the PTI did not attend the court proceedings. Jahangir Khan Tareen and other party leaders were assisting the party’s legal team led by Bukhari.

For the first time, former prime minister Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Pakistan leader Farooq Sattar and former chairman senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari witnessed the proceeding of the Panama Papers case.

Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Siraj-ul Haq and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed were also present in the courtroom, with Rasheed referring to the honourable judges as “Janab-e-Speaker" during his 20-minute-long arguments. More than four dozen parliamentarians were also in attendance.

Khawaja Haris Ahmed, counsel for the prime minister, will continue his arguments on Tuesday. The prime minister has raised 28 objections on the JIT report, terming its findings as “so-called and frivolous.”


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