- Kh Haris completes his 10-day long cross-examination of JIT head
ISLAMABAD: The formation of the joint investigation team in the Panama Papers case was the focus of Nawaz’s counsel Khawaja Haris’s cross-examination of joint investigation team (JIT) head Wajid Zia during the hearing of a graft reference pertaining to Avenfield apartments at an accountability court in Islamabad.
The Supreme Court-mandated JIT comprised Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director General (Immigration) Wajid Zia, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP)Managing Director (NIBAF) Amer Aziz, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Executive Director Bilal Rasool, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General ( Balochistan)Irfan Naeem Mangi, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director (Internal Security) Brigadier (r) Nauman Saeed and Military Intelligence (MI) Brigadier Kamran Khurshid.
At the outset of the hearing on Wednesday, Haris began with questioning the inclusion of SECP Bilal Rasool in the JIT. “Did it come to your notice that Rasool’s wife was the PML-Q nominee for the provincial elections of 2013 or that she is an ardent supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)?” asked Haris, to which Zia replied in negative.
The next person who came under scrutiny was SBP’s Amer Aziz. Khawaja Haris asked Zia if he knew that Aziz was part of the team which investigated Hudaibia Paper Mills case in 2000.
At this, NAB’s prosecutor Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi asked the relevance of the subject, saying the defence never challenged the constitution of the JIT. To which, Haris retorted: “Tell us where we welcomed the constitution.”
“Scandalous questions are being asked here,” Abbasi argued; to which he said, “Six days were taken to record Zia’s statement but you are questioning every question I ask.”
Haris then targeted Irfan Mangi, saying his appointment was being investigated– which is still pending– by the Supreme Court at the time of his inclusion in the JIT. To which, Zia said he did not know if it was being done on the court’s order; however, he did know there were some disciplinary proceedings against Mangi.
Haris then turned his guns towards the ISI representative, Nauman Saeed, who, according to him, was not a regular employee of the company.
After Haris completed his cross-examination, Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervez began his cross-examination following a short recess.
At the last hearing on Tuesday, Zia informed the accountability court that the JIT did not probe the mode of payment to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from Capital FZE and wage protection system of the United Arab Emirates’ government.
The NAB has in total filed three references against the Sharif family in the accountability court, in light of the Supreme Court’s orders in the Panama Papers case verdict of July 28.
The references against the Sharif family pertain to the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, their London properties, and over dozen offshore companies owned by the family.
Maryam and Safdar are only nominated in the London properties reference. At an earlier hearing, the court also approved Maryam and Safdar’s bail in the Avenfield properties case and ordered them to submit surety bonds worth Rs5 million each.
NAB’s Rawalpindi branch prepared two references regarding the Azizia Steel Mills and Hill Metals Establishment, and the nearly dozen companies owned by the Sharif family.
Its Lahore branch prepared a reference on the Sharif family’s Avenfield apartments in London and another against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for owning assets beyond his known sources of income.
If convicted, the accused may face up to 14 years imprisonment and lifelong disqualification from holding public office including the freezing of bank accounts and assets.