LAHORE: The Sharif family appears perturbed over the court’s reference to Mario Puzo’s novel Godfather in the Panama Papers verdict and is considering filing a review in the Supreme Court to expunge the remarks suggesting an analogy between the character and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The 540-page verdict begins with the quote from Puzo’s novel: “Behind every great fortune there is a crime”, originally attributed to 19th-century French writer Honoré de Balzac.

As opposition parties, in particular the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, latched onto the analogy to drive home the allegations of corruption against the PM, several Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders spoke out against the choice of analogy used in the verdict.

“The reference to Godfather in the [Panama Papers] judgement is disturbing. We are considering filing a review against such remarks in the apex court,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters in front of the Punjab Assembly on Saturday, adding: “We seek guidance from [the] Quran, not Godfather.”

The legal team representing the Sharif family is considering all legal aspects of filing a review petition. However, it has not yet arrived at a decision in this regard as yet. “So far it has not been decided to file a review for expunging certain remarks in the Panama [Papers] judgement,” Advocate Salman Akran Raja, counsel for the Sharif family in the Panama Papers case, told Dawn.

To a question of whether there have been past examples of requesting expunging of remarks, Advocate Raja said: “There are many such examples in our judicial history.”

However, there are some on the Sharif’s legal team who believe that the PM should not use the option of a review as challenging the court’s remarks could open a Pandora’s box for the prime minister facing an investigation by the Joint Investigation Team. “In case we challenge the adverse remarks, any further adverse remarks may not only make headlines but also provide another opportunity to the opposition to target the Sharif family,” a PML-N leader said.

Former federal law minister Khalid Ranjah told Dawn that the Sharif family might not file a review considering various complications.

“The whole judgement is full of adverse remarks about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and departments like NAB, FBR and [others working] under [the PM]. He may not get any relief from the apex court in this regard. This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that the SC [has] made such remarks about a sitting prime minister of the country. It is not some kind of an error in judgement that the premier is seeking to expunge. The premier has been declared dishonest and untrustworthy in the judgement unanimously by all judges on the bench. Does the premier think he will get relief in a review? If he does, he is seriously mistaken,” Mr Ranjah said.

It is for the first time in Pakistan’s history that a sitting prime minister will appear before an investigation team (JIT) probing allegations of financial misconduct against him. The SC is likely to announce the composition of the JIT next week.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2017

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