Sharifs question JIT’s impartiality

Updated May 24, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: A member of the Sharif family has raised objections over certain members of the six-man joint investigation team (JIT) formed to probe the allegations against the prime minister’s family, contained in the Panama Papers.

Hussain Nawaz, the prime minister’s elder son, is said to have expressed apprehensions over the presence of these officers, who may affect the fairness and impartiality of the JIT and its findings.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Talal Chaudhry alluded to this when, speaking to reporters at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, he said the party had conveyed its reservations on the JIT to the Supreme Court.

Earlier, he had stressed that since both Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were non-resident Pakistanis, they deserved to be treated the same as other expatriates.

Sources told Dawn that Hussain, in his application before the Supreme Court, requested that for the sake of propriety, the two officers should recuse themselves from the JIT to ensure upright and unbiased investigations into the allegations against the ruling family.

According to the source, one of the JIT members is a close friend of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and was very active when the treason case was being heard by the special court. The other one is said to be a relative of former Punjab governor Mian Azhar, a founding member of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and currently aligned with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Sources say that State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) officer Amer Aziz and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Executive Director Bilal Rasool are the two officers in question.

PTI chief Imran Khan also referred to this information, saying he had learnt about the objections raised by the Sharif family against two members of the JIT.

He criticised PM Sharif for his refusal to step down while the probe was being conducted. Mr Khan also said that the minister currently overseeing the SBP and other financial institutions had faced a probe over money laundering.

In addition to Hussain Nawaz’s reservations, rumours are also rife that Tariq Shafi, the cousin of the prime minister, has also expressed reservations over the treatment meted out to him by the JIT.

Mr Shafi is the person who, in an affidavit furnished before the Supreme Court, claimed that he deposited 12 million UAE dirhams in cash with the Qatari rulers after the sale of Gulf Steel Mills in 1980.

In the Jan 20, 2017 affidavit, Tariq Shafi had stated that he had deposited the money with Sheikh Fahad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani of Qatar after receiving each instalment from Mohammad Abdullah Kayed Ahli, the owner of the Ahli Steel Company, Dubai, in which Shafi held 25pc shares.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2017