The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) makes 11.5 million secret documents available to the public for the very first time. The documents, coming from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, contain confidential attorney-client information for more than 214,488 offshore entities.
Eight off-shore companies were reported to have links with the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif.
According to documents available on the ICIJ website, the prime minister's children Maryam, Hassan and Hussain “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies”.
The leaks breathe a new life into allegations of corruption that the Sharif family has long been haunted by.
At the forefront of the battle is Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, lead by its chairman Imran Khan.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his party aides consolidate their position on corruption allegations against the prime minister, demanding immediate action by the government to respond to the allegations.
This marks the beginning of what will be nearly a year long effort to resolve the Panama Papers case, also dubbed 'Panamgate' in the local media.
Later that afternoon, Maryam Nawaz tweets what appears to be a statement from the Sharif family spokesman. They are calling the revelations made under the Panama Papers leaks, a "distortion of information".
The statement goes on to clarify that "Maryam Nawaz is not a beneficiary or owner of any of the companies" named in the leaked documents.
Realising that silence may deepen the crisis, Sharif takes to the Pakistan Television (PTV) headquarters to address the nation and clear the air. The prime minister begins his speech with a subtle acknowledgment of the fact that he is using state apparatus to address a personal matter.
Visibly perturbed, Sharif says he is open to the formation of a judicial commission to probe his family's alleged finances in offshore tax-havens.
He explains how his family business was ruined by the party of the Bhuttos from the 70s to the 90 and then was slowly built up again. "On Jan 2, 1972, Bhutto took over the foundry in Lahore, and hence our assets were lost in mere moments," Mr Sharif confesses.
"My family was not involved in politics till much later, as such, even before I got into politics, we were an established industrial family," he explained.
The prime minister goes on to speak about how his father established an industrial plant in Makkah, following the military coup in 1999. The plant, he says, was "later sold, and my sons invested the funds into their businesses."
Denying the legitimacy of allegations targeting his family and himself, the prime minister assures the country he is open to legal scrutiny.
Khan wants the government to promptly form an inquiry commission led by the serving Chief Justice of Pakistan, Anwar Zaheer Jamali. To the contrary, the government is keen on having ex-Supreme Court judges populate the bench.
Still in its infancy, 'panamagate' begins to ingress into the judicial sphere, albeit turbulently. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan reveals that the ex-Supreme Court judges contacted by the government to head the inquiry commission have turned down the offer.
Nisar regrets: “All of these judges after taking the time to think over the matter refused to lead the commission without giving any reasons."
Despite mounting criticism from local press and political parties, Sharif takes off for London citing a medical check up as the reason for this five-day tour.
A PML-N source reveals: “The prime minister was looking quite weak when he visited the Planning and Development Ministry a few days ago and the disclosures of his sons’ involvement in offshore business definitely had its political and health costs.”
The office bearer adds that apparently due to a mistake by surgeons during a previous medical procedure in London, Mr Sharif had bled profusely. He recovered, but not completely, and was advised to take breaks from his engagements for further treatment.
A government team headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar finalises the terms of reference (ToRs) for the proposed inquiry commission being formed to investigate the Panama Papers leaks.
The ToRs are meant to define a scope within which the investigation would take place. Understandably, this is going to be a matter of contention.
Mainly the government's ToRs looked at empowering the proposed judicial commission to look into the following points:
To examine information relating to involvement of Pakistani citizens, persons of Pakistan origin and legal entities in off-shore companies in Panama or in any other country.
Involvement of former and present holders of public office in writing off their own bank loans or those of their immediate family members through political influence.
Transfer from Pakistan of funds which have originated from corruption, commissions or kickbacks, and to determine whether, in any case referred to above, any law for the time being in force in Pakistan has been infringed.
Maryam Nawaz expresses annoyance on PML-N's response not being "robust" enough. The meeting also reportedly resolved that: “If at all the commission is formed it will be the one headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court as announced by the prime minister in his address to the nation.”
Despite having been rejected by five ex-SC judges, the Muslim League leadership is still adamant to see a retired judge of the Supreme Court heading the commission. Rumour has it; retired judge Sarmad Jalal Osmany has accepted the responsibility to lead the probe.
The opposition parties, however, are still unclear on how best to go about the probe.
Amidst political turbulence, Sharif returns to Pakistan, eyeing a difficult job ahead of him.
In yet another address to the nation, Sharif announces that his government has decided to formally ask then Chief Justice of Pakistan to set up a judicial commission for investigations into Panama Papers leak.
"I challenge all those who allege tax fraud to come forward and present evidence. If charges are proved against me, I will resign immediately," vowed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif appears visibly piqued and spares no one while targeting his political opponents; the ‘hostile’ media, the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf and his allies. He reserves the bulk of his criticism for Imran Khan.
Rejecting the inquiry commission proposed by the government, leaders from the PTI, PPP, MQM, PML-Q demand the ToRs of any such commission be drafted in consultation with the opposition.
Coming out strongly against the government, PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari calls on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to step down, until an inquiry into the money laundering allegations levelled at his family are completed.
“As long as the investigations into the Panama leaks are ongoing, you should resign. You can resume [office] when you are absolved of the charges,” he said, reminding Mr Sharif of advice he had imparted for the former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani when the latter was facing multiple charges in court.
After a joint meeting between opposition parties, a set of ToRs have been presented to the government and the media. The ToRs emphasise on initiating the inquiry into off-shore holdings, starting with the Sharif family.
Among other points, the ToRs enlist the following:
Whether a respondent, by concealing the ownership and source of income through which the properties were purchased has committed corrupt and illegal practices under the elections/tax laws.
A special law titled “Panama Papers (inquiry and Trial) Act 2016” should be passed to facilitate the investigation into the assets, both foreign and domestic, of the prime minister. The law shall be formed with the consensus of the opposition parties.
A special commission should be formed, headed by Chief Justice and comprising two other SC judges nominated by him.
The procedure of the inquiry shall be fully inquisitorial in character The commission should complete its inquiry in relation to the prime minister and his family in three months.
Rejecting the opposition’s draft of the ToRs for a judicial probe, the government indicated it was willing to sit with the opposition and to come up with ToRs that were focused on eliminating corruption and did not target the prime minister personally.
“The opposition wants the prime minister in the dock, without touching other politicians whose children also run offshore companies,” said Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, alleging that the opposition was not serious about holding an inquiry and only wanted to achieve their political goals by simply levelling allegations.
Gen Sharif, according to a well-placed government source, conveyed a pointed message to the prime minister in a one-on-one meeting.
The army chief’s view was that the protracted controversy over Panama Papers investigation was affecting governance and national security and, therefore, the issue needed to be urgently brought to a close.
The Panamagate controversy takes a new turn as the Supreme Court returns the federal government’s request to appoint an inquiry commission to investigate the leaked document's connection with the Sharif family.
“Formation of commission of inquiry under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 (Act VI of 1956), looking to its limited scope, will result in the constitution of a toothless commission, which will serve no useful purpose, except giving bad name to it,” says a communication sent to the law secretary by Supreme Court registrar Arbab Mohammad Arif.
The letter also observes that the ToRs of the proposed commission are so “wide and open” that “it may take years” for the commission to conclude proceedings.
The prime minister suggests the formation of a joint committee to draft the ToRs, which will establish the judicial commission he referred to in his first state address on the Panama Papers allegations.
In this speech, Sharif attempts to explain the ownership of his London Park Lane flats. Astonishingly, there is no mention of Qatari Prince Jassim.
The money used to purchase flats in London, he says, was linked to properties the Sharif family sold off in Pakistan decades ago.
'Prime minister lied on the floor,' Shah accuses Sharif
After the session, PTI says Sharif has mislead the assembly. “The prime minister lied on the floor of the house,” says PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
“We have rejected the prime minister’s speech and the chief justice has already rejected the ToRs prepared by the government. So we will see where do we go from here,” he adds.
After much back and forth, the federal government and opposition have agreed to form a 12-member committee in order to draft joint ToRs for an inquiry commission, which would probe the Panama Papers.
After a meeting with opposition members, information minister Pervaiz Rasheed said that government and opposition will name six legislators each to form the parliamentary committee.
Maryam Nawaz says cardiologists and surgeons carried out tests, following which they decided to go for an open heart surgery. The surgery will be performed on May 31, and opposition party leaders – including Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto – tweet their best wishes to Sharif. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweets good luck to Sharif.
Maryam dubs the surgery successful and thanks everyone for their prayers and good wishes.
My father ...... The LOVE of my life ... Allah bless you with a long life & perfect health .... Ameen ❤️ pic.twitter.com/3PvhsushO1— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) May 31, 2016
The 12-member bipartisan parliamentary committee seems to have hit a dead end as both sides are not only refusing to budge from their positions on the issue of offshore companies but are also accusing each other of toughening their stance.
The opposition insists on starting the Panamagate probe from Sharif and his three children, whereas the government side wants to enact a law that would extend the scope of investigations but would not make any reference to the premier.
Opposition parties later in the month say they will take to the streets if the government doesn’t review its position on the ToRs.
PTI files a reference with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking disqualification of Sharif for allegedly concealing his assets.
Three days later, PPP also petitions the ECP to disqualify the prime minister and his family members. “The prime minister is not sadiq and ameen anymore and, therefore, is not eligible to hold a seat in the National Assembly,” says the petition, which also contains charges of money laundering, tax evasion and concealment of assets.
Sharif returns home from London, kicking off discussions among analysts about what he should now do to secure his future as the chief executive of the country.
Upon his arrival in Lahore, the prime minister appears relaxed and lighter in weight than when he had left a month and a half ago.
The prime minister’s arrival also fuels discussions such as the one during which Mr Sharif had repeatedly been told about the need for having some formal deputies in place, minding the party and the government on his behalf, should the need arise.
As he returns to work and is updated on the economic, security and political situation, Sharif is also determined to devise a plan to counter the PTI chief’s ‘propaganda’.
Khan had recently declared that he was now ready “to play the final round of matches” against the ruling party.
At the meetings in Raiwind, the prime minister is quoted as asking his advisers to prepare the ground for “multiple strategies” against opposition parties.
A PML-N politician from Lahore remarks that “the prime minister’s body language is that of a leader determined to stand firm against his opponents. He is in no mood to show leniency,” he says.
The opposition has decided not to negotiate anymore with the government over the ToR issue.
PTI had invited opposition parties to plot their future course of action after the government refused to accept their ToRs for a Panama specific probe.
Rather than adopting a hard-hitting stance against the government, opposition parties agreed to use their presence in the national and provincial assemblies to remind Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of his promise to hold a free and fair investigation into the Panamagate scandal.
Mr Khan regrets that four months had passed since the Panamagate made headlines, but not a single institution had moved or served notice on those whose names had appeared in the Panama Papers for allegedly committing money laundering and tax evasion.
In the run-up to the ‘movement for accountability’, PTI starts building pressure on the state institutions he believes are responsible for election rigging and rampant corruption in the country.
Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Emir Sirajul Haq filed his party’s long-awaited petition on the Panama Papers leaks in the Supreme Court.
The petition doesn’t name Nawaz Sharif directly. PTI is expected to file a similar petition next week.
Four days later, the apex court returns the petition, terming it ‘frivolous’.
“This petition prima facie appears to be a frivolous petition within the contemplation of Order XVII Rule 5 of the Supreme Court Rules 1980,” says an order issued by the registrar office.
The PTI files a petition with the Supreme Court seeking disqualification of prime minister Sharif from his office as well as the National Assembly.
The petition was filed by PTI’s counsel Naeem Bukhari on behalf of party chairman Imran Khan. It has been filed against 10 respondents, which include Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, sons and government institutions.
Bukhari told reporters that their petition is based on the prime minister’s May 16 speech delivered on the floor of the National Assembly.
"A statement delivered on the floor of an assembly possesses prestige," he said, adding that were a lot of contradictions between the facts and the claims made by Nawaz.
Khan appeals to people to fully participate in his party’s September 30 march to Raiwind in order to put pressure on state institutions which, according to him, are not working judiciously on the Panama Papers issue.
Doubling the political pressure on Nawaz Sharif, the PTI leadership decides to invite its workers to stage a sit-in outside the residence of Nawaz Sharif.
On their call, several thousand supporters of the PTI from different parts of the country reach Raiwind Road to participate in the “accountability movement” seen by many as a “do-or-die” act of Imran Khan.
PTI chairman Imran Khan calls on party workers to lay siege to Islamabad on Oct 30, telling them to paralyse the capital until Sharif resigns or presents himself for accountability.
In a bid to increase pressure on the government, the PTI has asked the Supreme Court to hold an early hearing of its petition seeking to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for their alleged involvement in the Panamagate scandal.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan started accepting petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf, Jamhoori Watan Party, Jamaat-i-Islami and others to begin the proceedings. "I welcome the judicial proceedings in connection with Panama Papers," said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in reply.
In a statement issued after consultation with his legal team, he said, "The court of public opinion has been making decisions, it would be better to wait for the judiciary's decision."
The SC has formed a larger five-bench to hear petitions regarding Panama. Earlier, a three member bench accepted petitions filed by PTI and Sheikh Rashid, asking for the Prime Minister's disqualification.
Khan calls on supporters to gather in capital, but the numbers aren’t impressive. The government places shipping containers to block off routes from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa into Islamabad.
Khan rails against Sharif; government stands its ground.
It was win-win for all sides when the SC asked the government and the protesting PTI to present their respective ToRs, in case the court decided to constitute an inquiry commission on Panamagate.
The order allowed Imran Khan to save face and call off his plan to lock down the capital, while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Panama Papers scam, which has been a bone of contention between the two parties since the scandal broke in April 2016.
The apex court had, on May 13, declined to accept the federal government’s plea to appoint a commission of inquiry to probe the Panamagate scandal.
The Sharif children's counsel, Salman Aslam Butt, informed the bench that Hassan Nawaz has been running a business lawfully for the last 22 years and Hussain for 16 years.
He added that Maryam Nawaz is not dependent on the prime minister.
Denying allegations levelled in the petitions, Maryam said she is not the beneficiary owner of off shore companies, Nielsen and Nescoll, but only a trustee.
The PTI and the AML chief are two of the four parties who have submitted their documents. Analysing the evidence will be a five-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali.
The court is currently considering whether or not to appoint a judicial commission to probe the Panamagate scandal.
The big question: how did Nawaz Sharif's children pay for their London properties?
The Supreme Court questioned the quality of the evidence presented by PTI and deplored that their 680-page submission had almost nothing to do with the Sharif family’s London properties.
Pointing at PTI’s counsel Hamid Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that it seemed as if the petitioners were trying to bury the truth under their evidence that consisted mostly of newspaper clippings, which were only good for selling pakoras the day after publication.
Also read: #Panamagate
Prince Jassim of Qatar presents a different story
Like a rabbit out of a hat, PML-N counsel Mohammad Akram Sheikh pulls out a document dated Nov 5, 2016 — marked private, confidential and not to be disclosed to any party, except for the benefit of the courts of Pakistan — on the letterhead of Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani, who ruled Qatar from 2007 to 2013.
The letter states that Hamad’s father — Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani — had “longstanding business relations with Mian Mohammad Sharif” — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s father — “which were coordinated through my eldest brother”.
In the year 1980, “Mian Sharif expressed his desire to invest a certain amount of money in the real estate business of Al Thani family in Qatar,” the document says.
The Supreme Court is not pleased to hear yet another explanation for how the Sharif family paid for its London properties, observing that both sides were doing their best to ensure that the court would eventually have to form a commission to decide the Panamagate case.
“This document has completely changed the public stand of the prime minister,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed after the Sharif children’s newly-engaged counsel, Mohammad Akram Sheikh, presented before the court an attested letter from a former Qatari prime minister.
PTI's lead counsel in the Panamagate case Naeem Bukhari, before the Supreme Court, alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had forged his cousin Tariq Shafi's signatures on documents.
Addressing a five-judge bench, Bukhari said, "I dont want to say that Shahbaz Sharif forged Tariq Shafi's signature but there is a difference in the signatures on the affidavit and the contract."
During the hearing, the judges also discussed the evidence presented by Bukhari gathered from news sources.
The court observed, "If we make a judgement on the basis of news sources, then the PTI should also be worried."
Proceedings in the case have ended today as Chief Justice Zaheer Jamali is scheduled to retire. The Supreme Court said that arguments from both sides would commence afresh when hearings resume in January.
A five-judge larger bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has been constituted by the Supreme Court to resume hearing of the Panama Papers case from January 4, 2017.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children submitted documents in the Supreme Court notifying a change of counsel in the Panamagate case.
According to the documents, Advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan will now represent Nawaz Sharif in court instead of Salman Aslam Butt.
Hassan and Hussain Nawaz will be represented by Salman Akram Raja, while Maryam Nawaz will be represented by Shahid Hamid.
The hearing of the Panamagate case resumed on Thursday where the five member bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, was appraised about details of the offices held by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his political career.
Naeem Bukhari, who represents PTI’s chief Imran Khan sought court’s permission to refer to a number of interviews of the Prime Minister, his spouse and children at different point of time to highlight that every one of them took a divergent stand about the ownership of the London properties.
Bukhari cited an April 10, 2000, interview of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz by Rory McCarthy of The Guardian in which she conceded that London flats were bought because her son was studying.
At this, Justice Saeed again cautioned the counsel that he was entering into a dangerous territory, adding that if "we start hanging people on television interviews or news paper clippings then your client will not survive either."
Members of the Supreme Court bench hearing the Panamagate case expressed divergent opinions over which side shouldered the burden of proof.
While Justice Asif Saeed Khosa — who heads the five-judge bench — placed the burden of proof on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family, Justice Azmat and Justice Ejaz, differed.
The prime minister's counsel is quizzed about a money trail for the London flats and is asked to prove there were no inconsistencies in the prime minister's speech in the National Assembly last year.
"There are two different money trails before us. How did the money go from Jeddah and then to London? And how did the money go from Dubai to London and then Qatar?" the judge asked.
Properties owned by the Sharif family in London’s upscale Park Lane neighbourhood were purchased in the 1990s and there has been no change of ownership since then, BBC Urdu has reported.
According to official documents available with BBC Urdu, the four flats were purchased in the name of the Nielsen and Nescoll companies.
According to the documents, an official record of companies doing business in the United Kingdom reveals that when Hassan Nawaz established Flagship Investment Ltd in 2001, the address he provided at the time of registration of the company was that of his Park Lane apartment.
Hussain had said: "The Park Lane apartments in London are ours, two offshore companies, Nielsen and Nescoll, own these flats and I am the beneficial owner of these companies, working under a trust held by my sister Maryam Nawaz Sharif."
The prime minister's daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif submitted her reply to the court.
In her reply, she maintained that she was not her father's dependent after her marriage in 1992 to Captain Safdar, and that she lived with her husband after her wedding.
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday tweeted documents to 'help' Pakistanis form their own opinion on the role of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter in Panamagate.
“For those in Pakistan who doubt the role of the prime minister’s daughter Mariam Safdar in Panama Papers – some of the documents. Judge yourself,” Süddeutsche Zeitung tweeted, along with attachments purporting to show her involvement with Minerva Financial Services. Maryam Safdar is her legal name after marriage.
A second letter is floated by Hussain Nawaz's counsel, 'clarifying' Sharif’s investment in Gulf Steel Mills. The letter is accompanied by transaction details and auditor's reports regarding the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai and the Azizia Steel Mills in Jeddah.
"The investment was made by way of provision of cash which was common practice in the Gulf region at the time of the investment. It was also, given the longstanding relationship between my father and Mr Sharif, a customary way for them to do business between themselves," the letter states.
"At the end of 2005, after receiving all accruals and other distributions made over the term of the investment, it was agreed that an amount of approx $8,000,000 was due to Mr Sharif. The amount due to him was settled in 2006," the letter explains, "by way of the delivery to Mr Hussain Nawaz Sharif's representative of bearer shares of Nescoll Ltd and Nielsen Enterprises Ltd, which had been kept during that time in Qatar."
As part of the Panamagate case hearing, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's lawyer Shahid Hamid addressed allegations against his client pertaining to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills default reference investigated by NAB.
Hamid read from Dar's confessional statement in court: "After the military coup, I was first kept under house arrest then was offered a position in that government in exchange for cooperation. I was made to sign a pre-written statement and then was arrested again."
"The army kept me captive till 2001, after which I told Rauf Klasra everything in a detailed interview and denied the statement that I was made to sign at the time," he finished.
As the Pamanagate case hearing resumed, 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.
During the hearing, the five-judge bench also 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.
The bench had postponed day-to-day proceedings after Justice Saeed had to be rushed to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology following chest pains on Jan 31.
“We are submitting three more documents — one from PTI chairman Imran Khan that authenticates all previous documents presented by the party, the expert opinion of UK-based lawyers and a document that proves that Maryam Nawaz is the owner of UK-based firms Minerva, Nielson and Nescoll,” PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference.
“Where is the actual document to show that Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is the owner of the four London flats?” asked Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, a member of the five-judge Supreme Court bench who rejoined proceedings after recovering from a cardiac ailment.
The prime minister's counsel argued that the petitioners had failed to link Nawaz Sharif to any wrongdoing, nor found any culpability.
They positioned themselves arguing that since no serious charge has yet been established against the prime minister except general allegations, there is no possibility of holding his children accountable for the allegations levelled by petitioners.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan regretted that the court was getting bogged down, describing the case as an onion, that yielded a new surprise every day.
“Every day, new documents and new queries are coming up. How shall we sum it all up?” the judge observed.
The lawyer for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sons sprang a new surprise before the Supreme Court by claiming that the bearer share certificates of the four London flats remained in the custody of Maryam Nawaz — the prime minister’s daughter — between February and July 2006.
Salman Akram Raja told the court that a trust deed was executed between Maryam and Hussain Nawaz in February 2006, following which she acted as a trustee for her brother.
The confession could prove to be a major blow to the Sharif's case.
Imran Khan has submitted an affidavit to the SC, asking it to ignore the two Qatari letters produced by the Sharif family as evidence of their stance in the case.
In the 24-page affidavit, the PTI leader termed the letters a wonderful example of reverse reconstruction, clearly concocted to cater to the issues before the apex court. The letters, he argued, were simply ‘unbelievable’ and an alleged puerile attempt by a rich Qatari to come to the aid of a rich Pakistani.
Today, NAB furnished the Supreme Court with records of two corruption references filed against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other members of his family over a decade ago.
One deals with the Hudaibiya Paper Mills scam, while the other related to the illegal construction of the Sharif family’s Raiwind Estate.
The Attorney General of Pakistan (AG) told the bench that the case record in the Hudaibiya reference had been examined and that the company had obtained loans through foreign currency accounts.
At this, Justice Saeed expressed the bench's frustration by saying that the lawyers were issuing different statements each time, which was confusing the bench.
"If a story has been made up, you should stick to it," he remarked.
"The court was told that investments had been made in the Qatari [royal family's] businesses. There was no mention of foreign currency accounts in the repayment of loans."
Addressing the AG, Justice Saeed said: "You should argue as the attorney general. Don't become a party [to the case]."
After both the defence and prosecution completed their arguments, the SC said it would reserve its verdict on the Panamagate case and issue a detailed judgement.
"It seems 'justice' is whatever serves [each party's] interests," Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked as the arguments wound up.
"If a judgement is not in someone's interest, they [will] say the judiciary is corrupt, or that maybe the judges aren't fit to handle such cases," he commented, adding; "And if a judgement benefits their own stand [on the issue], they will say there can be no better judge."
"We will decide this case only by the law; such that people will say, 20 years down the line, that this judgement was made by the book," concluded Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
The SC's split 3-2 verdict on the Panamagate case ordered, for the first time in Pakistan's political history, that a sitting prime minister and his children face further investigation by a specially-constituted six-man joint investigation team (JIT) comprising Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), MI (Military Intelligence), NAB, SECP and SBP officials.
The JIT was to probe whether PM Nawaz and his family members had amassed wealth beyond their known sources of income. As a result of the majority verdict, Nawaz Sharif remained the prime minister, but faced a thorough investigation by the JIT on the issue of money trail in what may be a long-drawn process.
Justice Khosa, who was heading the bench, and Justice Gulzar Ahmed both issued dissenting opinions in the 548-page judgement authored by Justice Ejaz Afzal, with additional notes from Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
Justice Khosa in his dissent declared that PM Nawaz should be disqualified for not being honest before the nation, parliament and court, and called for directions to the ECP to immediately de-notify the prime minister, an opinion echoed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed.
The JIT was to submit periodical reports to an SC bench every two weeks, and was to complete its investigation and submit a final report before the special bench within 60 days.
The probe team was formed on May 5 after some back-and-forth on names of officials who were to be a part of the team.
The JIT was led by FIA’s Additional Director General Wajid Zia, a grade 21 officer, and included the SBP's Amer Aziz, SECP Executive Director Bilal Rasool, NAB Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, ISI's Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed and MI's Brig Kamran Khurshid.
The JIT submitted a 275-page report on the Sharif family's wealth to the Supreme Court. The apex court said it would resume hearing the Panamagate case starting July 17.
The court passed four orders during the session:
Read more: SC hearings on JIT report from 17th
As the Panamgate hearing resumed, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and the Sharif family's lawyers submitted separate objections to the JIT report.
The PTI's lead counsel Naeem Bukhari presented his arguments before the court.
The Supreme Court concludes the hearings in the Panamagate case and reserves its judgement, but does not announce a date for the verdict.
The court also opens Volume X of the joint investigation team's report, which was earlier marked "confidential", a copy of the volume is provided to Nawaz Sharif's lawyer Khawaja Harris.
Volume X of the report, titled "Mutual Legal Assistance Requests ─ Ongoing", is related to JIT's international correspondence and the documents obtained from foreign countries during the investigation.
The FIA takes SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi into custody in Islamabad after its investigation revealed he had allegedly altered records related to the Sharif family's Chaudhry Sugar Mills
The SC had ordered Hijazi's arrest in light of the FIA and JIT's probe reports.
On July 28, the bench disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office.
The court ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to de-notify the prime minister from his National Assembly seat to fulfill the technicalities of implementing the order.
The Supreme Court said the ECP should de-seat the PM for not disclosing his role in the Dubai-based Capital FZE company in his nomination papers, saying that this meant he was not 'honest' and 'truthful'.
The top court also ordered the National Accountability Bureau to file three corruption references against members of the Sharif family and Ishaq Dar within six weeks before the accountability court, which was required to complete the trial within the next six months.
The decision brought to an unceremonious end Sharif's third term in power, roughly one year before scheduled general elections which would have seen him become the first Pakistani prime minister to complete a full five-year term.
Proceedings begin in the four references filed by NAB against the Sharif family and Ishaq Dar. The three references against the Sharif family are related to the Flagship Investment Ltd, the Avenfield (London) properties and Jeddah-based Al-Azizia Company and Hill Metal Establishment. The fourth reference filed against Dar pertains to the charge of possessing assets beyond one’s known sources of income.
The accountability court took up the reference titled “Flagship Investment Ltd and 15 other companies” first.
The accountability court in Islamabad reserves its judgement in Avenfield Properties reference against Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired captain Mohammad Safdar, after proceedings that lasted for more than seven months since the indictment of the accused.
The court said that the decision in the reference will be announced on Friday, July 6.
After rejection of an application by Sharif and Maryam seeking a seven-day delay, the accountability court in Islamabad announced a guilty judgement in the Avenfield corruption reference.
The court handed Nawaz 10 years in jail for owning assets beyond his known sources of income and 1 year for not cooperating with NAB. The sentences will run concurrently which means the former prime minister will serve 10 years in jail.
His daughter Maryam Nawaz was awarded 7 years for abetment in the purchase of the high-end properties in London, and 1 year for non-cooperation with the Bureau — also to run concurrently; she will serve 7 years in total.
Nawaz's son-in-law Captain Safdar was given 1 year jail time — for not cooperating with NAB.
Additional reporting by Nasir Iqbal, Irfan Raza, Tariq Naqash, Amir Wasim, Naveed Siddiqui and Haseeb Bhatti.
Header illustration by Fahad Naveed.