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PM’s speech a ‘confession’, says JI counsel

As the Panamagate hearing resumed Friday, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) began its arguments before a larger bench of the Supreme Court, adopting the stance that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s parliamentary speech can be used as evidence in the case.

“Can Nawaz Sharif’s speech in the National Assembly not be used as evidence against him,” JI’s counsel Taufiq Asif asked, referring to the premier’s speech on the floor of the lower house last May following mounting pressure from opposition parties in the wake of the Panama leaks.

The speech, which presented an overview of the premier’s family business, became controversial when the PM’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan asked the apex court to set aside its contents.

The bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, is hearing a case seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and others in the wake of the revelations made in the Panama Papers.

During his arguments, the JI counsel insisted that the premier’s speech be considered a confessional statement. “The prime minister’s speech should be taken to be a confession. There is no other way,” he asserted.

He pointed out that certain details regarding the properties and assets owned by the premier’s family were not provided in the speech.

Taufiq Asif told the court that in 1980, the Sharif family’s Ittefaq Foundries, located in Punjab, were a loss-making entity. However, he said, in the three years after that, the foundries went onto make a profit of Rs60 million.

He added that by 1985, the foundries had become part of a larger group of companies.

Bringing the focus of his arguments to the Gulf Steel Mills in Dubai, the JI’s counsel told the court they were sold for $9m.

However, he said, no details had been provided regarding the source of financing used to establish the business in the first place.

“Nawaz Sharif hid his assets in London,” the lawyer argued as he referred to the Sharif family’s Park Lane apartments. “He [the prime minister] should be disqualified. He is no longer sadiq and ameen.”

Taufiq told the court that, in his tax returns and in the nomination papers, the prime minister did not mention the London flats. “He did not deny ownership of the flats,” he added.

“You claim that the speech is a confession,” Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed. “Show us which part of the speech contains the confession.”

Courtesy : Dawn News

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