As the Pamanagate case hearing resumed on Tuesday before a five-member bench of the Supreme Court, the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) Prosecutor General Waqas Qadeer Dar was called once again to the stand and questioned why the ruling in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case was not appealed.

In response, the prosecutor general said NAB had not appealed the decision as the judges had not agreed unanimously on the verdict given in the case.

To this, Justice Ejaz Afzal pointed out that a number of cases where the verdict was unanimous had also not been challenged.

"We will take this into account when it is NAB's turn in the case," Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked.

"The NAB prosecutor recommended against an appeal and the NAB chairman's suggestion was also taken into account," the NAB prosecutor general maintained.

Justice Gulzar Ahmad also wondered how many cases go without an appeal after a verdict is given, to which Dar responded that there are innumerable cases in which NAB has decided against filing an appeal against the adjudicating court's verdict.

After the prosecutor general was relieved, Salman Akram, the lawyer for Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, continued his arguments in court.

During the hearing, the five-judge bench questioned the absence of any mention of the Qatari investments in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's speech in the National Assembly and in Tariq Shafi's affidavit presented to the apex court.

"We were told that all evidence had been made available, and that perhaps it was we who were unable to see it in its entirety," Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said in stern admonishment to Akram.

In his clients' defense, Akram said that the Sharif family's investments in Qatar were only brought to the fore once the Qatari ruling family had been taken into confidence.

"How were the 12 million dirhams acquired," Justice Gulzar Ahmad asked during the hearing.

"Was Tariq Shafi aware of how the [Gulf Steel] factory's 12 million dirhams were provided," added Justice Ejaz Afzal.

To this, Salman Akram replied that the court should perhaps summon Shafi to the stand and ask him about the money.

Justice Ijazul Hasan pointed out that in every other transaction, a bank is mentioned but this particular sum was given in cash.

Akram maintained that there is nothing extraordinary about this as a 1,000 dirham banknote existed in 1980 and 12 million dirhams was not a large amount.

On the judges' questioning, Akram also reiterated that the Sharif family did not buy the Park Lane flats between 1993 and 1996, but in 2006, and neither were they owners of offshore companies between 1993 and 1996.

Akram said the companies' bearer certificates were with the Al Thani family before 2006, and that the Al Thani family had bought the flats in between 1993 and 1996 through offshore companies.

When asked by the judges who really owned the flats and when Hassan and Hussain Nawaz took up residence in them, Akram conceded that the two had been living in the flats since 1993.

"Their ties with the Qatari royal family must have run pretty deep for them to stay there for 13 years," Justice Ijazul Hasan retorted.

"[Your clients] stayed in the flats for 13 years. The finger is pointed at them," Justice Ijazul Hasan later remarked.

"My clients stayed there as guests of the royal family and the flats were later turned over to us by the Qatari royal family as part of a business deal," Akram said.

Later, while deliberating the arguments made by Akram on behalf of his clients, the judges expressed annoyance on the persistent lack of clarity on the ownership of the London flats.

"If we were to conclude, it seems Hussain Nawaz hasn't been fully truthful to us," Justice Ejaz Afzal noted. "If you deliberately hid details from us, what are we to do?" he asked.

"The prime minister's lawyer told us to ask his children about the properties," Justice Khosa added. "When we asked Maryam, she said she was only the trustee. Now you're saying that you too don't have anything to show."

"If you don't want to make your position clear to the court, why do you bother?" he continued. "You are taking a big risk."

"You cannot expect us to provide the details of the arrangement between Mian Sharif and Sheikh Jasim," Akram replied.

Justice Ijazul Hasan did not consider this a valid argument. "In his 80 or 85 years, did Mian Sharif never speak of his business dealings with his sons? His investment stayed in Qatar for 20 years, did his partner never provide any details [of what was being done with it]," he added.



Updated 21 May, 2022

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