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ISLAMABAD: The critical documents which have changed the political situation of the country and led to disqualification of Nawaz Sharif from holding the offices of prime minister and president of his political party are not being treated as admissible evidence by the accountability court.

However, the court on Tuesday exhibited the letter from the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza) regarding the employment of Mr Sharif in the Capital FZE as “Chairman of the Board” from Aug 7, 2006 to April 20, 2014, while the defence counsel raised objections to admissibility of the letter.

The documents related to the Capital FZE owned by Mr Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz were termed “marked document” by the court.

According to legal experts, the documents exhibited by the court, if not objected to, may be admissible by the court as evidence. But the documents marked by the court are not admissible unless they fulfil mandatory legal requirements.

Nawaz Sharif foresees no split in PML-N even if he is convicted

Wajid Zia, the head of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Panamagate, submitted to the court the Capital FZE’s documents about personal details and profile of Mr Sharif and disbursement of salary to him.

When Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court asked him what that was, Mr Zia replied, “These are screen shots.”

Amjad Pervez, the counsel for the Sharif family, objected to the documents and said how the screen shots could be exhibited, adding that such screen shots could only be put on the court record as evidence after the author of the documents or operator of the computer from where the screen shots had been captured testified before the trial court.

These documents are part of Volume IX of the JIT report. The Supreme Court in its July 28 verdict, relying on the documents, had noted that Mr Sharif was chairman of the Capital FZE and had been withdrawing salary till 2013, but had not disclosed it in the details of his assets.

The apex court had rejected the arguments of Sharif’s counsel that he was not receiving the salary and on the interpretation of word “receivable” passed the verdict against the former premier.

Arguing on the Jafza letter, Mr Pervez said the document did not relate to the Avenfield apartments reference. He said the JIT head must be asked from where he had obtained the letter.

The Jafza documents had not been brought through proper channel, he said, adding that under Qanoon-i-Shahdat, there was a certain procedure for procuring evidence from abroad. “There is no certificate of local record keeper of the United Arab Emirates, nor was it attested by the notary public, Pakistani consulate or diplomatic agent.”

He pointed out that the Jafza letter did not address the JIT or any court of law, rather it was titled “To whom it may concern” and concluded with “the letter has been issued upon request and without any legal liabilities on Jafza”.

Mr Pervez said Volume X of the JIT report had been kept secret, but the documents which the JIT had procured from some foreign countries had been brought on the court record.

On the other hand, special prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau Imran Shafiq defended the Jafza letter, saying the authority had certified the letter dated July 4, 2017 and attested the document accordingly.

The accountability court will continue testimony of Wajid Zia in the Al-Azizia and Flagship references on Wednesday (today).

Sharif talks to media

Talking to reporters before the start of the court’s proceedings, Nawaz Sharif said it was the good fortune of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that TV anchor/politician Aamir Liaquat did not join the party and “tied the knot” with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). In a lighter mood, he said the PTI was meant for such people.

When asked why those people whom he promoted in politics and legal field ditched him, he repeated a famous quote of Hazrat Ali. Then Mr Sharif quoted the proverb, “Naiki kar darya main daal’’ on which his daughter Maryam Nawaz intervened and added that minister of state Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was saying, “Humari naiki tu darya say nikal kar humari jaan hi nahin chhorti”.

Mr Sharif asked a journalist about his opinion on the fate of his trial and the journalist replied that it was written on the wall since the case had so many dimensions and legal aspect was only one dimension of it.

In reply to a question about rumours of a spilt in the PML-N in case of his conviction, Mr Sharif said that earlier his political rivals expected defections in his party after his removal from the PM House, then they were hopeful about it after his disqualification from holding the office of president of the party and now they were waiting for his conviction.

He expressed the hope that the PML-N would remain united even after his conviction and said what else the rivals would wait for after his conviction.

Mr Sharif claimed that unlike the references involving SGS, Cotecna, National Logistic Cell, National Insurance Corporation Limited, Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution and rental power projects, which were related to huge kickbacks and under-the-table commissions, corruption of a single penny of was not alleged in the references against him. “They have accused me of accumulating assets. Our assets are the outcome of my father’s hard work since 1937 and it is not an overnight achievement.”

Explaining his reference in a lighter vein, Mr Sharif recalled an Indian movie in which the wife of Dilip Kumar set the bedroom on fire after failing to engage him in love. Someone asks Mr Kumar what happened. “She cannot light my heart and set bedroom ablaze in revenge,” he replies.

“I am facing these references over a similar analogy,” Mr Sharif said.

NBP chief to be indicted

Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court dismissed a plea seeking acquittal of President of the National Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmed in a supplementary reference filed by NAB regarding assets of defunct finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The court decided to indict Mr Ahmed and two other accused — Naeem Mehmood and Syed Mansoor Raza Rizvi — on March 27.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2018