Panamagate: PM is ‘innocent’, says counsel | Pakistan Today

Panamagate: PM is ‘innocent’, says counsel

Several pages of book of PM’s life missing: SC

Justice Asif Saeed Khosa-led five-member bench gave Makhdoom Ali Khan, PM Nawaz Sharif’s counsel, a tough time as he argued from the very outset that his client had nothing to do with the issue before the court.

The court led by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa resumed hearing the Panama Leaks case on Thursday.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said that the Prime Minister had said his life was an open book, but “now we feel that several pages of that book are missing”.

“If there was no connection, then how does the money trail lead to the London flats?”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel told the Supreme Court that the premier is not answerable to anyone for his son’s business.

He was quizzed about a money trail for the London flats and asked to prove there were no inconsistencies in the PM’s speech in the National Assembly last year.

The PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan denied that his client had anything to do with the London flats before the bench.

Khan argued that the family business was transferred to Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz after the death of Mian Sharif, the PM’s father. “Nawaz Sharif had nothing to do with it,” he said.

“If there was no connection, then how does the money trail lead to the London flats?” Justice Khosa inquired. “There are two different money trails before us. How did the money go from Jeddah and then to London? And how did the money go from Dubai to London and then to Qatar?”

The PM’s counsel denied Nawaz Sharif had been a director of the family’s Dubai factory.

“How can we believe that he was never the director?” Justice Khosa asked. “No documents have been submitted before us to prove he was never the director.”

Khan told the bench that the Dubai factory was established after taking a loan, upon which he admonished by a judge for presenting documents in court that did not make this apparent. The counsel asked the court to form a commission “to go to Dubai and review allegations made against the prime minister”.

The counsel informed the bench that the PM was neither a shareholder, nor a guardian, nor a recipient of sales proceeds, nor a director in the companies under scrutiny.

Both bench and counsel of PM Nawaz Sharif didn’t see eye to eye when the latter argued that Dubai Steel Mills were founded on a bank loan. “The court should form a commission that’ll review the allegations by visiting Dubai,” Makhdoom replied when he was told that the onus lies on him to prove how those mills were built.

The bench placed the onus of proof on respondents as Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan pointed out the premier has admitted to the ownership of Dubai properties. However, Makhdoom differed on the count that providing documentary evidence lies squarely on the petitioner in this case.

“The prime minister’s speech was not a statement in the court.”

Justice Ijazul Hassan observed that the prime minister had admitted to owning Dubai mills and said all records are available. “Now the burden of proof is on you,” he told the PM’s counsel.

Khan was of the opinion that presenting documents and proof is the petitioner’s job.

Justice Khosa remarked that the ‘prime minister’s lawyer will have to satisfy the court’ regarding the ownership of the Dubai factory.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed told Makhdoom Khan that the Panamagate case is based on contradictions in statements made by the prime minister on the floor of the National Assembly after the Panama leaks last year.

The judge, referring to the plaintiff’s allegations that Nawaz Sharif provided incorrect statements, told the counsel, “If you disagree, then you will have to prove it.”

“If there is a small mistake in the speech, it can be overlooked. But if mistakes were made on purpose, there will be serious consequences,” Justice Ejaz Afzal warned.

“We do not believe that the speech was wrong but if something was hidden on purpose, we will consider that to be a half-truth,” Justice Khosa said.

“Will Article 66 be a hindrance to the court’s review of the PM’s speech?” Justice Ejaz asked.

The counsel told the judge that the prime minister in his speech was giving an overview of his family’s business.

“He was not taking an oath or answering a specific question,” Khan said. “The prime minister’s speech was not a statement in the court.”

Both the PM’s counsel and bench delved deep in Representation of People’s Act 1976 and circumstances that can lead to an elected representative’s disqualification from office. Makhdoom, at one point, also argued that the prime minister can’t be disqualified by Supreme Court on the basis of statements and claims.

Makhdoom Khan said that there are two ways to remove the prime minister: the first is by the submission of a no-confidence motion. The second requires that members of the National Assembly prove that the PM is dishonest.

“The Supreme Court, however, cannot disqualify him based on the statements and claims of others,” Khan said.

“Who was speaking the truth: the prime minister or Hussain Nawaz?” Justice Ejaz inquired. “If one of them has told the truth, the other has lied.”

“The record the prime minister referred to in his address has still not come forth,” Justice Gulzar observed.

Justice Khosa remarked, “The prime minister had said his life is an open book. There seem to be some pages missing from that book.”

Makhdoom Khan finished the day’s arguments by telling the court that the matter of the money trail has nothing to do with Nawaz Sharif.

“The business belongs to the [premier’s] children. The record will be presented by their lawyer.”

“The lawyer of Hassan and Hussain Nawaz will present details about the business and the money trail record,” Makhdoom Khan said.

Sheikh Rashid also honed his newly-found skills at arguing before the highest court of the land. The hearing on Thursday, however, reverted back to the serious atmosphere as seasoned advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan despite facing tough queries from the bench kept his wits about and continued arguing till the hearing was adjourned.

Due to a limited number of seats in the court, both the government and opposition leaders relied on loyalist who held their seats every time they had to leave the courtroom.

Even though Naeem Bukhari completed his arguments on Wednesday, the PTI supremo Imran Khan along with his entourage was present in the courtroom on Thursday. He was accompanied by Jehangir Khan Tarin, Shah Mehmood Qureishi, Shafqat Mehmood, Arif Alvi and for the first time Senator Azam Swati. From the government side, Special Assistant to PM Barrister Zafar Ullah Khan, State Minister for Information Marrium Aurangzeb, Tallal Chaudhary, Daniyal Aziz and others were present.

The hearing was adjourned till today (Friday).



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