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SC dissects PM’s ‘contradictory’ statements on money trail

Updated Jan 10, 2017 11:09am


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ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court judge on Monday identified “honesty” as the real issue in the Panama Papers case, more so than the Sharifs’ purchase of four London flats or the time of their purchase.

“The real issue is that all statements made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — in his address to the nation as well as the parliament — contradict each other,” regretted Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, wondering whether the person making the statements was not being honest to the people, the National Assembly and even the apex court.

Justice Khosa heads a five-judge Supreme Court bench that is hearing petitions seeking the disqualification of the prime minister over investments made by his family members in offshore companies.

Instead of the smaller court room, Monday’s hearing was held in a much calmer and spacious Courtroom No. 1, where PTI chief Imran Khan and Secretary General Jahangir Tareen were present along with other party members as usual. In attendance from the government side were Information Minister Mariyum Aurengzeb, Adviser Zafarullah Khan, Talal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz.

But Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, pointing towards PTI’s Advocate Naeem Bokhari, emphasised the need for caution in deciding a disqualification case under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution on the basis of a statement made by the holder of a public office, which later turned out to be false. “If we start disqualifying people under this pretext, no one will be spared, not even your clients,” the judge observed.

But Justice Khosa explained why the bench was giving so much time to the case: the court understands the consequence of its decision — a decision that should be reached while striking a balance between satisfying the requirements of law on one hand and interpreting law in such a way that everybody should not be disqualified.

“This case is the first of its kind that has come up,” Justice Khosa noted, adding that this was the reason why the court did not want to rush into a decision.

“We know the gravity of a declaration by the court and its affect for both the parties, saying that someone was not honest. But we have to lay down parameters, otherwise, except for the Jamaat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, no one will survive,” Justice Khosa observed.

“The ultimate objective of this court is to get to the whole truth,” observed Justice Ijazul Ahsan, adding that it was understandable that the counsel cannot answer every question because the gaps have to be filled by the respondents (the prime minister and his family).

Mr Bokhari, however, argued that people’s money have been laundered and appropriated to purchase the London flats, adding that the prime minister was answerable for the false statements he had made before the National Assembly.

The PTI counsel described the Nov 5, 2016, Qatari letter as an attempt on the part of the prime minister to pad up his defence. In his address to the nation on April 5, 2016, he identified the sale of the Jeddah factory as the source of finances for his son’s business. But the prime minister never stated that the money was invested in Qatar. In his speech to parliament, he asserted that the record regarding the sale of Jeddah factory was available, but nothing had been placed on record as of yet.

On Monday, the Supreme Court spent considerable time discussing the statement of incumbent Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, recorded before a magistrate as an approver in the Rs3.4 billion Hudabiya Paper Mills default reference by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The statement made under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was recorded on April 25, 2000.

Later, the Sharif family had challenged the same before the Lahore High Court, where Justice Sardar Shamim quashed the reference on March 11, 2014, explaining that if re-investigation was allowed against the Sharif family, it will provide an opportunity to investigators to pad up loopholes in their case.

At this, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that the NAB chairman showed connivance by not moving an appeal before the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision. But by ordering the NAB chairman to file a belated appeal, the court cannot arrogate itself to sit in appeal against the high court judgement, the judge said.

Was not it obligatory for some authority or agency to look into the details of the matter and ascertain whether the allegations against the Sharif family were wrong or right, Justice Khosa asked. He said the Supreme Court had held that the finality of the Tauqir Sadiq Ogra corruption case by the Islamabad High Court was not an obstacle for the Supreme Court to take up the matter again under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

He recalled that the Supreme Court had given a judgement that a statement under Section 164 had to be recorded before a magistrate and can be used as evidence by any forum.

But Justice Khan recalled a Federal Shariat Court judgement, in which it was held that confessions in Hadd cases should be recorded before the competent court and not before a magistrate.

Mr Bokhari argued that he was seeking court directions that the NAB chairman, by not filing the appeal against the high court judgement, had committed dereliction of duty. Therefore, a reference should be moved against him before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Justice Khosa reminded the counsel that though the reference was quashed, the allegations still survived. Therefore the value and worth of the statement of Ishaq Dar under Section 164 still holds the field, adding that the quashing of the reference does not mean that the accused were acquitted.

At this point, Justice Khan quipped: “Provided we ignore the judgement of the referee judge”.

“I can anticipate that if we call the NAB chairman and inform him that the court was sending a reference [against him] before the SJC, he may himself volunteer to hold a re-investigation,” Justice Khosa observed.

The judge asked then the counsel to file an application before the NAB chairman, and in case it was rejected, he could move an appeal and take his chances.

During the proceedings, Justice Khan wondered how, when the entire family business was run by Mian Sharif, could the prime minister recall the whole money trail.

But Justice Khosa referred to three different stories relating to the Sharifs’ investment in Dubai, Jeddah, Qatar, which then ended up in London and said that if all the money in the three investments belonged to Mian Sharif, the money that travelled to London would ultimately go to the prime minister under the law of inheritance.

Published in Dawn January 10th, 2017


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Comments (42) Closed

Ali (CA) Jan 10, 2017 08:12am

This is a key sentence for every Pakistani to read.

"The real issue is that all statements made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — in his address to the nation as well as the parliament — contradict each other,” regretted Justice Asif Saeed Khosa,

Patriotic Jan 10, 2017 08:12am

When you are speaking the truth, there is only one story, one line of defence. You don't change your story based on how things are moving. In case of our PM, there have been multiple stories which only proves one thing - they are telling more lies to defend the earlier lie

Smart Solutions Jan 10, 2017 08:27am

A complex situation indeed. It may require forensic experts to investigate year by year account for past 20 or 20 years.

Alba Jan 10, 2017 08:46am

Corruption and tax evasion are apples and oranges.

Philosopher(from japan) Jan 10, 2017 08:53am

Please don't expect anything. If we start disqualifying people on false statements than nobody will be spared including IK. This statement speaks at length in which way the case is skewed.

Smart Solutions Jan 10, 2017 08:54am

@Alba Wonder if these apples and oranges are home grown or imported from other countries?

Seneca Jan 10, 2017 08:59am

Doesn't matter if they are apples or oranges, in this case they are both rotten.

Seneca Jan 10, 2017 09:10am

One doesn't merely make contradictory statements about millions of dollars. These are million dollar houses that one can't just innocently make a mistake, only a dishonest man who has something to hide changes his story. Again this is not a chocolate bar that one forgets the details, its millions of dollars. Tax evasion as well as corruption are both serious crimes ESPECIALLY from a head of state. So NS is guilty of many crimes, how did he get the money, why has he evaded taxes, why did he lie in court/parliment, conflict of interest by holding a business and office at the same time,etc. Any single one of these is worthy of impeachment, except in PK of course. Even CJ pondered what NAB is doing. That tells you all you need to know about law and order in PK.

Yaser Arafat Jan 10, 2017 09:40am

The counsel of PTI are taking this case toward a dead end or never ending! Either intentionally or incompetency! They had started that NS name is appear in Panama leaks and alleged the offshore companies belong to him which have been made through corruption or money laundering! Now Hudaibia Mills or Al Taufeeq Mills....which are pertaining to 1999 - 20000 which had established by PPP and than Musharraf era now going to reopen which have already court decided. As far as concern to Ishaq Dar statement which have court have given verdict that under what circumstances (under pressure) the statement had been given has no value. As it was expected, nothing will come and NS will get another clean chit which will endorse success for next election and PTI....will loos even KPK! Let all wait for miracle.

Faisal Jan 10, 2017 09:57am

@Alba : Absolutely. The question is not the purchase of the Flats. The question is money going to London. Tax Evasion is a subject in Corruption umbrella.

ALSA Jan 10, 2017 10:19am

Nothing will happen...Everyone knows that they have looted our money and made flats in England in 1993. But nothing will happen. I feel sorry for Imran Khan that he tried so much but the corrupt system will not be changed. I feel more sorry for our country men who still support these corrupt mafia in the name of democracy. That is so sad.....anyways....There will be no justice it is all the highest level...

abdul Jan 10, 2017 10:24am

Only poor is accountable to the law to the police and to the rich.

Sheraz Jan 10, 2017 10:30am

This case is crystal clear as broad day light and supreme court should not come under any pressure.

taha Jan 10, 2017 10:30am

The depth of the matter is bigger then Arabian Sea. SC is honest but the system of corruption must be at their throats.

cw Jan 10, 2017 10:32am

Honesty does matter; specially when it is related to the PM of the country.

khanm Jan 10, 2017 10:35am

Folks...The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink...

JAved mirani Jan 10, 2017 10:48am

@abdul poor are responsible for misdeed of rich people, too.

Amir Ali Khan Jan 10, 2017 10:52am

The Sharif family would do a great favour not only to the SC,but also to people of Pakistan, by coming clean about this sordid saga. Country needs to be moved forward . This case has already consumed ample time.

A Jan 10, 2017 11:07am

SC of a 'country' questions the honesty of its PM

Speaks volumes about the state of affairs

Truth Jan 10, 2017 11:17am

It is a simple human phenomena. If your story keeps changing every time you speak, or you provide a different versions of the same set of events, than it is a proven fact you are not telling the truth.

PM is in a pickle because he has consistently failed to tell the truth. Only the truth shall set you free!

Arshad Jan 10, 2017 11:24am

Its a case against Pakistan Vs Corrupt !

Adnan Hamid Ali Jan 10, 2017 11:34am

“If we start disqualifying people under this pretext, no one will be spared, not even your clients,” the judge observed.

So be it.

Riz Jan 10, 2017 11:40am

Honesty is not the primary issue. Primary issue is corruption and tax evasion. I think SC has got it wrong.

Masoud Jan 10, 2017 11:41am

Panama leak issue is not that difficult to understand or believe. The named properties surely belong to Nawaz Sharif & Family, not an iota of doubt about it. The only issue is Nawaz Sharif wants to come out of this case unscratched no matter upto what length he has to go, he is on denial mode.

iffi Jan 10, 2017 11:55am

Do we have any institutions, which can question or make accountable these rich ( untouchables ) elite ???

dyed wasim haider Jan 10, 2017 11:56am

Honesty in day to day affairs in Pakistan ? very difficult to practice, very rare commodity .It is a dream these days.

iffi Jan 10, 2017 11:58am

@khanm you are spot on

Well wisher Jan 10, 2017 12:03pm

If honesty and integrity was common norms, things would have been different in this country.

nuzhat shireen Jan 10, 2017 12:06pm

The prince of Qater will appear in next hearing ,and all case will be change .

Philosopher(from japan) Jan 10, 2017 12:08pm

Nothing will happen. I am saying this from the day one and I reiterate it again.

Dr khan Jan 10, 2017 12:14pm

As a doctor who pay regular income tax I was asked by FBR to explain how I purchased 240 sq yard house in North Karachi.Why cant they ask PM and his family to come in supreme court and explain what is their business in foreign country,how money was transferred abroad and how much tax they paid in Pakistan and abroad. It will take just two hours to prove that NS hands are not clean.

Arshad,Canada Jan 10, 2017 12:18pm

@ALSA ,I thing actually firmly believe that the justice will be served regardless of our liking and wishes.

Darakshan Jan 10, 2017 12:36pm

Disappointed. A slmple case of money laundering is not being decided. We all know justice delayed is justice denied.

Khawaja Jan 10, 2017 03:01pm

The highest court of the country is saying the Prime Minister lied and falsified his statements. Is that enough evidence to impeach him?

Nasir - London Jan 10, 2017 03:52pm

@JAved miran: True, but the poor need to eat to survive.

azmat shah Jan 10, 2017 03:57pm

@Yaser Arafat I dont think you have read the news. the judge remarked that "Justice Khosa reminded the counsel that though the reference was quashed, the allegations still survived. Therefore the value and worth of the statement of Ishaq Dar under Section 164 still holds the field, adding that the quashing of the reference does not mean that the accused were acquitted"

kanwarch Jan 10, 2017 04:11pm

No use of dissecting Nawaz Sharif`s statements in parliament and when addressing the nation. Court should call him to the court and ask him to explain his statements and his wealth. Simple. Nobody else needs to furnish any evidence.

kanwarch Jan 10, 2017 04:09pm

@Dr khan agreed. It is a simple case.

Gaf Jan 10, 2017 04:38pm

@Adnan Hamid Ali - Yes you are right.

Iftikhar Husain Jan 10, 2017 06:30pm

It is getting very interesting case we all are enjoying I hope this mess is sorted out.

Ali Jan 10, 2017 08:07pm

PM Nawaz Sharif has dragged the nation through Panama scandal for nine months. All government work has stopped, as cabinet ministers are at the Supreme Court every day defending their leader? No where in the world would such circus making mockery of accountability be allowed.

PM Nawaz Sharif and his family are guilty of corruption and lies, given by their contradictory statements to cover their fraud, evading TORs for accountability. This is criminal. There is a simple solution, give them polygraph (lie detector) test, which will confirm the truth. No politician or his family can be above the law.

Love Your Country Jan 11, 2017 11:02am

@Dr khan - there is a need to compile a list (it will not be short) of previous and current civil and military high ups who should go through this process, I agree.