'What are we accused of,' Hassan Nawaz asks at third JIT appearance

Published July 3, 2017
Hassan Nawaz talks to reporters after facing the JIT.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's son, Hassan Nawaz, on Monday appeared before the six-member joint investigation team (JIT) probing the business dealings of the Sharif family abroad.

This was Hassan's third appearance before the probe team and it lasted over two hours.

Speaking to reporters outside the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) for the first time in his three visits, Hassan said he had submitted to the JIT information and all documents concerning his companies and businesses in Britain, including "bank statements, loan statements and tax return documents".

Hassan Nawaz arrives at the Federal Judicial Academy.

"I asked the JIT one question: 'You are asking me all these questions, asking for all the documents — it is my right to ask what is your accusation against me?'," he said.

Hassan also said pejoratively that the JIT seemed to have set up a "Friday bazaar" to issue repeated summonses to his family members and demanded that the team explain what the family is accused of.

"The JIT has been trying since many days to frame a charge [against the Sharif family]," he alleged.

Hassan also wondered what the JIT accuses him of, "when the tax authorities of Britain," where he has held businesses for 15 years, have "never accused [him] of any wrongdoing".

Hassan also said he would appear before the JIT even if he was summoned 100 times and answer every question asked.

"You can even send summons to my 85-year-old grandmother," he quipped.

He also alleged that the JIT had no issues with the prime minister's children, but "the real issue is Nawaz Sharif".

"His [the premier's] children are being used to exert pressure on Nawaz Sharif," he alleged.

'JIT report will be incomplete without Qatari prince's statement'

Speaking to reporters outside the FJA, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Asif Kirmani lashed out at the JIT over what he alleged was a "u-turn" in the probe team's investigation.

Asif Kirmani talks to reporters outside FJA.

He alleged that the JIT report will be "incomplete" if it did not include the statement of Qatari prince Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al Thani.

After receiving the Qatari royal's letter, Kirmani claimed, the JIT had reportedly presented three choices to the prince to record his statement: that he can visit Pakistan, the JIT can visit him in Qatar or he can be interviewed over Skype.

He claimed that the Qatari prince had invited the JIT to visit him, "but no progress has been made so far regarding that".

"Their (JIT's) report will remain incomplete until the Qatari prince's statement is a part of it," Kirmani said, alleging further that the JIT has taken a "u-turn from its original mandate".

He said the JIT was originally assigned the task to investigate about the Sharif family-owned London flats, and since the Qatari letter concerning those apartments is already with the court, the JIT must visit Qatar to record the prince's statement.

Addressing JIT members directly, he said: "You must go to Qatar or this nation and PML-N workers ... will have serious reservations in accepting this report."

He alleged that since the JIT could not find any incriminating evidence against the Sharif family regarding London flats, it was seeking to reopen the Hudaibiya Paper Mills chapter, "a case quashed by the high court twice".

Kirmani claimed that the Sharif family had submitted all required documents after getting them certified from London to the Supreme Court.

Referring to the JIT as "mohtarma [madam] JIT", Kirmani alleged that the probe team has hired a law firm in London through which it is trying to obtain the same documents and information "which are already present in the Supreme Court record".

He questioned why the JIT had allegedly used tax money to pay "tens of thousands of pounds" to the legal firm when it could have obtained the same documents from the apex court.

As the JIT began its last round of interrogations, it examined the prime minister’s cousin Tariq Shafi on Sunday.

So far, the JIT has recorded the statements of six members of the family — the prime minister, his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, two sons, son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar and cousin Shafi.

Shafi told reporters after Sunday's hearing that he was questioned about the Gulf Steel Mills but he did not submit “any documents to the JIT today”.

His second appearance before the JIT lasted almost three hours and, according to him, the investigators’ behaviour towards him was ‘pleasant’.

“They asked how and when the Gulf Steel Mills was founded and sold. I answered whatever they asked me,” he said.

Sources earlier told Dawn the JIT was in the process of winding up the probe by this week, after which it would finish compiling the final investigation report by the second week of July before it is submitted to the apex court by the July 10 deadline.



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