Analysts, politicians weigh in as SC reserves ruling on Panamagate case

What are the possible outcomes of the case? And what are politicians saying about it? Read on to find out.
Published July 21, 2017

As the Supreme Court (SC) reserved its judgement in the Panama Papers case after hearing arguments from all sides, politicians and analysts weighed in on the possible outcomes of the case.

The long-drawn-out trial that began with the Panama Papers leak last year was followed by the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) probe into the Sharif family's assets.

A week after the submission of the JIT report, the SC resumed its hearings on Monday, deliberating over arguments presented by lawyers representing the defendants — the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar — and the petitioners; the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the Jamaat-i-Islami, and Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid.

The PM's possible options

Justice (retd) Shaiq Usmani

The prime minister has the powers to dissolve the assembly without any reason, so he could take that route if he wishes. Provincial assemblies would remain in such a scenario, unless they too decide to dissolve themselves. But there is no problem in Punjab right now [so they might not opt for this].

All of this [the case] is based on financial irregularity. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) could be ordered to investigate [the case], by registering a First Information Report and submit its findings to the court.

The petition was filed against PM Nawaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain Safdar, so if the decision is unfavourable for the defendants, it would be against these three and not Maryam Nawaz, as she is not an office holder.

'PM's disqualification likely'

Legal expert Ahsanuddin Sheikh

The chief of the bench, Justice Ejaz Afzal, has said that the court has not been satisfied so I feel that the case is going towards disqualification.

Two judges have already said that the PM should be disqualified according to Article 184 (3).

Read more: 13 damning remarks made by Justice Khosa on Panamagate

Although that was a minority judgement, it has persuasive value. Based on this and today's proceedings, I feel that a disqualification is likely.

Possible outcomes

Legal expert Asad Rahim Khan

The first possible outcome is that the court dismisses the petition citing, among other reasons, lack of evidence in the JIT report.

The second possibility is that the PM is disqualified through Articles 62 and 63 ─ the Sadiq and Ameen clauses ─ for contradictory statements, as well as unrelated offences of perjury or submission of false documents.

Third, the court may send a reference premised on assets beyond means to the accountability court, in keeping with the defendants' arguments that a fair and full trial take place under Article 10A, a fundamental right afforded any citizen of Pakistan.

That said, it is well possible that the court rules that due process concerns have already been met for the purposes of disqualification, and that a trial may occur in addition to, rather than in spite of, said disqualification.

'SC needs to be solid in its reasoning'

Analyst Nusrat Javed

It was important to reserve judgement on the case (as opposed to a short order) because the SC needs to be very solid in its reasoning; for example, whether it chooses to disqualify the prime minister or to send the case to a trial court ─ because what the SC decides in this case will set a precedent for future cases.

This will set a precedent because rather than approaching election tribunals, the people will directly reach out to the SC and ask it to disqualify future ministers and prime ministers on the basis of Article 184(3).

'No good news for Nawaz'

PPP's Qamar Zaman Kaira

As a layman, it appears that there is no good news for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sheikh Rashid was correct in saying that the SC should become the protectors of the JIT because if they [Sharif family] are let off, no one knows what will happen to the the team's members.

It is possible that the court believes Nawaz's fate has already been written, so it is better to proceed with the main judgement.

'Qatari ex-PM did not come because case based on lies'

JI Emir Sirajul Haq

For the first time we have seen that a law, which had been very effective against the weak, has now become effective against the powerful.

Qatar's Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabber Al-Thani did not come because he knew that the case was based on lies.

We demand that the case should be decided according to Articles 62 and 63.

'Decision likely in a week'

PTI's Fawad Chaudhry

The SC's decision is expected to be announced in a week or a maximum of 10 days.

The Sharif family's lawyers did not tell the court how Hassan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz became billionaires.

Naeem Bokhari said in court that the PM has been continuously dishonest and has lied on the floor of the assembly, in the court and to the JIT.

Honest leadership is required to lead Pakistan, which Nawaz Sharif is not.

'A PPP PM would have been served with contempt'

PPP's Sherry Rehman

A strategy of pressuring and threatening is being followed.

Had a PPP prime minister said what Nawaz Sharif said at the Lowari Tunnel inauguration ceremony yesterday, he would have been served a contempt of court notice.

Come out and say in clear terms who you think is creating this conspiracy.