ISLAMABAD: The remarks of Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court regarding the judgement in the Panama Papers case echoed in an accountability court on Wednesday as ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif termed them “not an ordinary” development.

“The persons within the judiciary and from outside are commenting on the verdict,” said Mr Sharif, supreme leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), after attending the trial proceedings in a reference filed against him and his children on the orders of the Supreme Court.

While deciding identical petitions filed by political rivals of Mr Sharif, the apex court disqualified him from holding office of the prime minister and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file three references against him, his daughter Maryam, sons Hussain and Hassan and son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar.

Ousted PM links rupee fall against dollar to ‘chaos’ caused by Panama case judgement

Hearing a petition of a local PML-N activist seeking disqualification of MNA Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Justice Isa passed the remarks on Tuesday that the Panama Papers case involved four Avenfield flats in London of the Sharif family, but Mr Sharif was disqualified for holding an Iqama (work permit) of the United Arab Emirates.

Outside the accountability court, Mr Sharif said that legal experts like S.M. Zafar and even the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had termed the Panamagate decision a weak judgement.

He also asked why Justice Dost Mohammad did not attend the full-court reference.

“Before passing such an order like in the Panama Papers case, the judges should at least think whether this would be acceptable to the masses,” he said.

“The apex court’s bench consulted the Black Law Dictionary to justify the verdict against me,” he said.

“I have respect for every institution and in order to restore the deposed judges I resorted to a long march in 2009,” he recalled.

“Neither I nor the people of Pakistan accepted the decision that removed me from the PM house for not receiving salary from my son,” claimed Mr Sharif.

On the other hand, the court cleared Imran Khan despite his confessions to own an offshore company, Mr Sharif said, adding that the apex court disqualified PTI’s leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, but unlike what it had done in our case, neither the matter was referred to NAB nor the SC appointed a monitoring judge to ensure timely conclusion of the case.

Likewise, Sheikh Rashid had concealed properties worth billions of rupees and the court was passing the remarks that it also had to consider Mr Ahmed’s intention, said Sharif.

He claimed that unlike references related to Rental Power Projects, Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution, National Insurance Corporation Limited, National Logistic Cell and SGS-Cotecna involving billions of rupees kickbacks, there was not a single penny of corruption alleged in three references filed against him.

Mr Sharif claimed that during his tenure of over four years, the dollar remained stable, but due to the chaos caused by the Panama case judgement, the value of the US currency went up rapidly.

Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir on Wednesday disposed of an application which requested the court to confine star witness Wajid Zia to only relevant portions of reports of the Joint Investigation Team.

The court declared that the witness may be asked to testify on his own and admissibility of evidence will be decided at the time of final verdict.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, counsel for Mr Sharif, cross-examined prosecution witness Norin Shehzadi.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2018