“The entire case hinges on whether it can be established that the Mayfair properties in London were owned by the Sharif family before 2006,” remarked Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa on Wednesday.
The Panamagate pleas of PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami, Awami Muslim League and a lawyer, Tariq Asad resumed after a break of more than three weeks on Wednesday by a five-member larger bench led by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa who stated that “we will proceed day to day in the case and there shall be no adjournment at all”.
Other four members of the bench are Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The bench asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan to provide details of his client’s financial position – from the time he was a provincial minister in Punjab to his position as the chief executive of the country.
The court observed that it would have to examine whether transactions from Saudi Arabia or the UAE or Qatar come under the ambit of the Pakistani law but raised pointed questions about the money trail that enabled the Sharif family to purchase the flats.
At the onset of the hearing, Tariq Asad requested the bench to form a commission, adding that social media is seeking to discredit the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the superior judiciary.
Justice Khosa responded that “We will consider your prayer when the time comes. Don’t worry about the remarks against judges, we know what to do in accordance with law”.
Commencing his arguments on behalf of PTI chief Imran Khan, Naeem Bokhari said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his speech on the floor of the house and his address to the nation did not cite any reference regarding investments in Qatar.
Bokhari alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif intentionally concealed facts in his address to the public and to Parliament, adding that the affidavit of Tariq Shafi, Nawaz Sharif’s cousin, claiming that all properties, including Gulf Steel Mills, were owned by him was fake.
Bokhari further pleaded that Nawaz Sharif did not declare his business dealings in Qatar in his income tax returns or before the Election Commission of Pakistan.
He argued that there existed sufficient evidence to prove that Nawaz Sharif is not Sadiq and Ameen. He prayed to the court to disqualify him from membership of Parliament.
Bokhari also argued that the Sharif family procured a loan from BCCI through which Gulf Steel Mills in the UAE was purchased. He added that it is yet to be ascertained whether accounts payable have been cleared or not. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan remarked that the court would have to examine whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif failed to mention, intentionally or unintentionally, some facts in his speech.
Bokhari stated that the Sharif family purchased Mayfair Flats in London before 1996 and no relevant bank transaction has ever surfaced in this regard, adding that these properties belong to the people and the state of Pakistan. Bokhari requested the court to issue directives to the Federal Board of Revenue to recover tax from Nawaz Sharif.
The PTI counsel also urged the bench to issue a show-cause notice to Chairman National Accountability Bureau for negligence as he had failed to challenge the referee judge of Lahore High Court.
In his verdict dated March 11, 2014, the judge had directed NAB not to reinitiate an inquiry against Nawaz Sharif and his family members in the Rs 3.48 billion wilful loan default case concerning Hudaibiya Paper Mills and other companies. Justice Khosa observed that it is the Supreme Judicial Council which can issue a show-cause notice to Chairman NAB; however, Bokhari requested the court to issue directives to Chairman NAB to file a time barred appeal before the Supreme Court in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case and to seek condonation of delay in adjudication of the case.
The PTI counsel requested the bench to issue a notice to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and ask about the money trail of $34 million in response to the London court’s decision.
The London court in 1999 had proceeded against Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Mian Abbas Sharif and Mian Muhammad Sharif for defaulting on a loan obtained from the Al-Towfeek Investment Fund in the name of Hudaibiya Paper Mills where the court had attached four properties of the Sharifs.
Turning down the plea of Bokhari, a Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said that Shahbaz Sharif has not been made a party to the case. During the course of proceedings, PTI chief Imran Khan sought permission of the bench to speak. After getting permission, he told the bench that it is a wrong impression that PTI press conferences are pressure tactic on the courts.
Khan said that government uses its platform to express that PTI has not given evidence so the PTI is forced to hold press conferences. However, the bench asked parties to the case to avoid media talks in the court premises. Later, the hearing of case was adjourned till today (Thursday). PTI counsel Bokhari will resume advancing his arguments.