ISLAMABAD: The documents pertaining to the employment of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the United Arab Emirates, which led to the Supreme Court’s decision of his disqualification, were collected by two members of the Joint Investigation Team in a single day, JIT head and prosecution witness Wajid Zia disclosed on Wednesday.

The documents comprising a copy of the employment contract, a certificate related to the employment of Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) and the screenshots of the details regarding disbursement of salaries to Mr Sharif from Hussain Nawaz-owned Capital FZE, had been obtained by Irfan Naeem Mangi of the National Accountability Bureau and Brig Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence, Mr Zia explained during his cross-examination before the accountability court.

The prosecution witness said all this exercise had been done in a single day as the JIT constituted by the Supreme Court faced time constraints and had to meet the deadline fixed for the completion of investigation into the Panama Papers allegations.

Mr Zia had submitted the documents related to Mr Sharif’s employment before the accountability court earlier last month.

Wajid Zia tells accountability court JIT faced time constraints and had to meet the deadline fixed by Supreme Court

In reply to a question by defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed about the documents, Mr Zia admitted that the document was neither notarised from the UAE ministry of justice nor was it attested by the Pakistani consulate in Dubai.

The counsel argued that since a formal procedure for certification of such documents had not been followed, it was unclear to whom the JAFZA had issued the documents. Mr Zia informed him that JAFZA Senior Vice President Shahab Sultan Mesmar had signed the certificate and stamped the document. However, Advocate Haris said the JAFZA letter was not addressed to the JIT, rather it was a “to-whom-it-may-concern” document.

During the cross-examination related to the money trail, the witness admitted that the JIT did not attach a copy of the 1980 shares sale agreement of Gulf Steel Mills with an application written to the Central Authority for International Cooperation, the UAE, for mutual legal assistance. The verification of the agreement was necessary to know about the money trail that resulted in the purchase of Avenfield apartments in London as per the statement of the Sharif family in the Supreme Court, argued the counsel for Mr Sharif.

A day ago, the accountability court had allowed the prosecution witness to obtain Volume X of the JIT report regarding the mutual legal assistance from the Supreme Court record as the defence counsel wanted to cross-examine him regarding the JIT’s application written to the UAE authorities for the verification of the Gulf Steel Mill shares sale agreements of 1978 and 1980.

When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, Mr Zia apprised Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court that he had obtained seven mutual legal assistance documents pertaining to the steel mills but not the entire JIT report’s Volume X.

The counsel for Mr Sharif asked Mr Zia if the JIT had attached the 1980 sales agreement with all the four letters written to the central authority, department of international cooperation ministry of justice, Dubai, for mutual legal assistance. The JIT head explained that the investigators didn’t attach the said agreement with all the letters but with the one seeking mutual legal assistance in which they did mention the 1980 agreement. The counsel then recalled that the witness had claimed a day earlier that the JIT had attached the 1980 agreement with all those MLAs where the investigation team had framed legal questions.

Advocate Haris then read out JIT observations that the former interior minister, Rehman Malik, was a clever, self-projected and politically-motivated person who tried to mislead the JIT. Mr Zia said the evidence provided by the former interior minister was based on hearsay and upon source reports. The JIT alleged that Mr Malik also lied about handing over an essential document to former chairman of NAB retired Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad.

The accountability court later adjourned the proceedings till Thursday (today) when the defence counsel will continue to cross-examine the JIT head.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2018



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