ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s lawyer in the Panama Papers leaks case and his party member Naeem Bukhari will assist the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as special prosecutor in all cases being tried against Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif in the Supreme Court.
Mr Bukhari, who joined the PTI in June 2016, will also assist the anti-graft watchdog in cases against Fawad Hassan Fawad, ex-principal staff officer of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and former director general of the Lahore Development Authority Ahad Cheema.
An official press release issued by the bureau on Friday said: “NAB has hired the services of Naeem Bukhari, advocate, Supreme Court, to conduct and oversee the prosecution of all matters pending before the apex court regarding Shahbaz Sharif, Fawad Hassan Fawad and Ahad Cheema. The prosecution division of NAB will assist him in this regard.”
It was not mentioned in the press release under what terms and conditions Mr Bukhari would assist NAB.
However, a spokesman for NAB told Dawn that Mr Bukhari would take “one rupee” as salary and would not get any perks and privileges. “He [Mr Bukhari] will only assist NAB as special prosecutor in three pertinent cases of Shahbaz Sharif, Fawad Hassan Fawad and Ahad Cheema,” he added.
The induction of Mr Bukhari into the already heavy team of prosecutors in NAB raised many eyebrows.
Mr Bukhari had announced joining the PTI around three years ago by calling Imran Khan the only political leader who had the courage to speak the truth and struggle for the poor.
He had represented petitioners Prime Minister Imran Khan and Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid — who were in opposition — in the Panama Papers case against then PM Nawaz Sharif. The apex court clubbed all the petitions together filed in the aftermath of the Panama Papers which uncovered links between the Sharif family and eight offshore companies.
The Supreme Court had initially ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe allegations of money laundering, corruption and contradictory statements by Mr Sharif and his relations in a 3–2 split decision on April 20, 2017, with the dissenting judges ruling that the former premier be disqualified.
After the JIT submitted its report and subsequent arguments were heard, the apex court by a unanimous verdict disqualified Mr Sharif from holding public office.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2019