The Supreme Court Wednesday resumed hearing the Panamagate case, which seeks the disqualification of the prime minister over alleged investments made by his family in offshore companies.
A five-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has been hearing the case on a daily basis.
During proceedings, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) counsel, Naeem Bokhari, pointed out irregularities between the statements of the prime minister and his children.
Bokhari called for the Sharif family to provide a record of the ownership of the London flats from when a law regarding bearer certificates was passed in 2002 till the time they were transferred.
“The Sharif family will have to provide proof of the Qatari royal family having ownership of the certificate,” Bokhari said.
“A bearer certificate is not a prize bond”, he stated, “and the offshore company belongs to the person who has the bearer certificate. According to law, it is necessary to alert authorities about the ownership of a bearer certificate,” he said.
Justice Ijazul Hassan questioned whether the law was applicable to companies created before it was passed, to which Bokhari replied that the law was indeed applicable to the holder of the bearer certificate.
“The Sharif family will have to prove that every action they took was in accordance with the law,” Bokhari said.
In his remarks, Justice Azmat observed that it is yet to be established when the London flats were bought.
“According to the Sharif family, the flats were transferred in 2006,” Justice Azmat said, noting that according to Bokhari, the Sharif family bought their flats in 1993 and 1996.
Bokhari also brought up the meaning of the term ‘dependent’, pointing out that, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, a dependent is one whose costs are borne by another.
“The prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, did not have money for offshore companies,” he said. “She was gifted crores of rupees by her father for the purpose,” he alleged.
To this, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed replied that Hussain Nawaz had also given Maryam Nawaz money, “If your point of view is to be believed, is Maryam Nawaz Hussain Nawaz’s dependent too,” Justice Saeed asked Bokhari.
Justice Ejaz Afzal in turn asked whether one who lives with their father can be considered a dependent.
Sheikh Rasheed takes the floor
Awami Muslim League (AML) leader Sheikh Rasheed also presented his arguments in court.
“The court knows everything, we are here only for assistance,” he said. “If someone is in someone’s protection, they are their dependent,” he contested.
Rasheed claimed the Sharif family was hiding behind the Qatari letter, which he likened to a fictional work by novelist Razia Butt. “The Qatari prince is Rescue 1122 for the prime minister,” Rasheed went on, “He is the man of the match.”
The courtroom erupted in laughter upon hearing Rasheed’s statements, and was swiftly admonished by Justice Azmat.
“The Qatari letter is worth no more than tissue paper,” Rasheed continued. “The letter is based on hearsay and cannot be evidence,” he maintained.
“The Hudaibiyah Paper Mills are the mother of all cases,” the AML leader said, and levelled yet another accusation at the government, saying that all investigative institutions are in its pocket.
Justice Khosa urged Sheikh Rasheed to return to speaking of legal matters.
“No one has challenged documents showing Maryam Nawaz as a beneficiary owner of the companies,” Rasheed observed.
“Our children don’t have ID cards when they’re 19, but the Sharif children were millionaires at the same age,” he added.
“The Sharif family should tell us where their money was from 1980 to 2006.”