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SC to conduct Panamagate hearings on daily basis

A larger bench of the Supreme Court, resuming hearings on the Panamagate case on Wednesday, decided that hearings on the case would take place on a daily basis.

The bench, constituted by newly-appointed Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, decided that the court would not accept any further unnecessary adjournments in the case.

Justice Khosa said, “We will not leave anything unattended.”

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) counsel Naeem Bokhari while presenting his arguments maintained that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had misguided lawmakers in a speech regarding his assets delivered earlier this year in the National Assembly following the Panama Leaks.

Bokhari told the court that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, brother of PM Nawaz, had carried out transactions outside the country in London. He was of the opinion that Shahbaz Sharif’s financial dealings should also be included in the case, but the court reminded him that that the CM Punjab had not been made party in the case.

The court ordered Bokhari to prove whether or not Hussain Nawaz, PM Nawaz’s son, is the owner of certain offshore companies bought before 2006. Naeem claimed, saying that the Park Lane flats 16 and 16a were bought in 1995 for 75,000 pounds.

Justice Khosa observed that an attested letter from a former Qatari prime minister, presented in the apex court in November, states that the London flats were owned by the Al Thani family before the Sharif family bought them.

He added that no record had been presented in court to show that the Al Thani family used to own the flats.

The judge ordered the PTI counsel to establish the source of funding for the Park Lane flats. He observed that three different money trails had been presented in the apex court in regard to the purchase of the flats.

The first viewpoint suggests that the funds were transferred from Qatar to Dubai, where as the second suggests it was transferred from Dubai to Jeddah. A third view point suggests funds were sourced from Qatar to London.

He implored the counsel to establish a single money trail.

The Qatari letter states that the Park Lane flats in London were purchased by Mian Sharif , PM Nawaz’s father in 1980. The document adds that they were bought from the sale of the Dubai Steel Mills.

Regarding this transaction, Justice Khosa rhetorically asked Bokhari, “Was the investment [in the flats] so profitable that from 1980 till 2006, it has generated billions?”

Bokhari responded by alleging that PM Nawaz had conducted benami transactions in Dubai. He told the court that 10 per cent of the profit earned from the sale of Dubai Steel Mills was given to the Dubai government.

During the hearing, the court also expressed anger over politicians speaking with the media on its premises. Political leaders were asked not to make the apex court a “political battleground”.
Change of counsel

On Tuesday, a day before the the Panamagate case hearing resumed, PM Nawaz, his children and son-in-law changed their lawyers in what legal experts believe is a ploy to prolong the proceedings.

The change of the entire legal team, they believe, reflects the nervousness in the ruling family because they apparently were not satisfied with the earlier team.

Makhdoom Ali Khan replaced senior counsel Salman Aslam Butt, to defend the prime minister, whereas Maryam Nawaz and her husband retired Capt Mohammad Safdar will be represented by Advocate Shahid Hamid in place of Mohammad Akram Sheikh.

Senior counsel Salman Akram Raja will appear on behalf of Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of the prime minister.

This is the second time that lead counsel representing parties in the case have been changed. In November, PTI counsel Hamid Khan, was replaced by Advocate Naeem Bokhari after dissociating himself from the case.

It is expected that the newly engaged lawyers of the Nawaz family may seek more time to get themselves familiarised with the bulk of documents submitted to the court.

The development has evoked disapproval from the PTI side, with its vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi demanding expeditious decision on the controversy through day-to-day hearings. He alleged that the change of the legal team by the Sharif family was a pretext to gain more time, although they had sufficient time after the case was adjourned on Dec 9.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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