Tuesday Nov 28, 2017
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court began hearing on Tuesday the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) appeal regarding the re-opening of the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills case.
NAB has appealed an earlier decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) directing it to quash the investigation into the case, which accuses former finance minister Ishaq Dar and prominent members of the Sharif family of money laundering.
Justice Mushir Alam is heading the three-member bench hearing the case, which includes Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.
As the hearing went under way, Justice Isa asked where the original NAB reference is, as it is relevant for this hearing. The NAB prosecutor responded that he could not find the reference, and commented that it is not relevant for this hearing.
Justice Alam then remarked that when the original reference is unavailable, what is the purpose of the hearing.
Justice Isa then asked the NAB prosecutor to read out the petition. He informed the bench that the suspect was sent out of the country when the case was under way.
Justice Isa then inquired if the suspect (Nawaz Sharif) went on his own free will or was forced to go abroad, to which the NAB official said the country's present chief executive had sent him.
When asked by Justice Isa who the chief executive was at the time , the NAB prosecutor said it was General (retd) Pervez Musharraf.
The hearing was then adjourned until December 11 as NAB asked for more time to prepare for the case.
The bureau was also directed to produce all records of the case at the next hearing.
Talking to the media outside the Supreme Court, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said it is suspect that the NAB filed the appeal but did not attach the main reference.
"I request the NAB chairman to pay attention to this," he said, alleging that the prosecution department is connected (with the defence).
The PTI leader also called for "inquisitorial proceedings" by the judiciary in the case.
He stated further that then-Saudi King Abdullah negotiated the deal between Gen (retd) Musharraf and Nawaz (after Nawaz's ouster in 1999) and the quashing of the Hudaibiya case was a part that deal.
On September 20 this year, NAB filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the LHC's 2014 decision, naming former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his brothers Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and late Abbas Sharif, their mother Shamim Akhter, Shehbaz's son and MNA Hamza Shehbaz, Nawaz's daughter Maryam, and others as respondents.
The NAB has pleaded the Supreme Court to dismiss the LHC decision to quash the case and order a reinvestigation into the scam as per the new evidence which surfaced in the Panama case Joint Investigation Team report.
The Hudaibiya Paper Mills was allegedly used as a cover by the Sharif family to launder money outside the country in the 1990s.
It was in relation to this case that the Sharif family's trusted aide, Ishaq Dar, recorded a confessional statement on April 25, 2000 in front of a magistrate in Lahore accepting his role in laundering money.
On the basis of that confession, a reference was filed by the NAB in 2000 before an accountability court against the Hudabiya Paper Mills, three Sharif brothers, Dar and others.
Dar was not charged as he had become an approver in the case for the prosecution.
That reference was struck down by a referee judge of the Lahore High Court on March 11, 2014 in response to a writ petition filed in 2011 stating that Dar's confession was coerced.
Dar had claimed that he had made the 'confession' in duress and disowned the statement.