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ISLAMABAD: The star witness in the references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday testified before the accountability court that the UAE authorities did not certify the trading licence of Capital FZE but provided other documents such as details of his employment and salary to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

As per the testimony of star prosecution witness Wajid Zia, the trading licence of Capital FZE — the firm owned by the son of Mr Sharif — was the key document that led the JIT to get other relevant documents including the salary details of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supreme leader.

The former premier was disqualified by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017 for not declaring in his nomination papers his salary that Mr Sharif claimed he had never received.

During the cross-examination, Mr Zia told the court that Guernica 37 Interna­tional Chambers provided them the trading licence as source document that provided a lead to the JIT to find other documents of the company where the former prime minister had worked.

When defence counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed asked if the JIT had got this document verified from Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (Jafza), Mr Zia said the JIT members had taken this document to Dubai where Jafza told them that it would provide a certified document to them. However, he conceded that Jafza did not provide the trading licence to the JIT.

The UAE authorities did provide to the JIT other documents with details about Mr Sharif’s employment and salaries, he added.

During the cross-examination Mr Zia said the audit report of the said company that the son ex-PM, Hassan Nawaz, had provided to the JIT was mistakenly mentioned as source document. “It is a mistake that it was mentioned as source document. It was not a source document,” Mr Zia said, adding that some papers related to Capital FZE were erroneously mentioned as source documents in the JIT report.

While the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi had repeatedly raised objections during the cross-examination of the JIT head, Judge Mohammad Bashir of the accountability court accepted one objection and suggested Advocate Haris to ask fewer questions.

The NAB prosecutor said cross-examination must be relevant to facts and if source documents had to be discussed, the defence counsel should have brought them on record as admissible evidence. At this, the counsel for Mr Sharif said questions had to be asked about these documents as the JIT head had taken a particular stance regarding a connection between these documents and the FZE Company as well as Avenfield apartments.

Replying to a question, Mr Zia said Guernica had sent some documents with its letter, dated June 21,2017. He added that Guernica also sent some other multiple source documents to the JIT but only the papers which were stamped and signed were submitted along with the JIT report in the court. The defence counsel then referred to a Guernica document that was neither signed nor stamped.

Raising an objection, the NAB prosecutor said the defence counsel had been repeating questions. At this, the defence counsel claimed that he was doing so as he was supposed to dig out the truth.

Mr Abbasi said that under Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order 1984 (Evidence Act), a question could be asked on reasonable grounds only if it had some relevance. He cited that the defence counsel had wasted several hours on the statement of Rehman Malik that the JIT had already discarded. However, the defence counsel insisted that the JIT had relied upon a document provided by Rehman Malik to establish Avenfield apartment case against the Sharif family. He said the JIT used the statement of a solicitor, Shezi Nackvi, linking the Avenfiled apartments with Sharif family since the mid 1990s.

The accountability court adjourned the proceeding till Tuesday when the defence counsel will continue to cross-examine Mr Zia.

Earlier while appearing in the Avenfiled reference, PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif said: “Chief Justice Sahib should demonstrate what he assured the nation of transparent, free and fair elections”.

However, whatever was happening with the ruling party and what has been done with the party senators were against the CJP’s claim, he said expressing doubts over holding of transparent and fair elections. He said it was an irony that the top judge of the apex court had used the same language what his political rivals had been using against his party.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2018