Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Tuesday urged patience over final report submitted by the Panama case joint investigation team (JIT) in the Supreme Court, claiming that a narrative was being shaped against the prime minister since the submission of the report.
Speaking at a presser here, Ishaq Dar said the Panamagate JIT report has several flaws, comprises of unsigned documents and even copies. He urged opposition parties to demonstrate patience for they also did so at the time of “Dharna-I and Dharna-II”.
The minister noted that no offshore company has the name of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as its owner, lamenting that efforts are being made to shape a narrative (against the PM) since the submission of the report in the Supreme Court.
Dar urged the system should be allowed to function, adding “There have been courts functioning outside the courts”.
“Yesterday, the Supreme Court took notice of what is being said in the media about the case. Everyone should show patience like we have. The JIT report is not final,” he said.
“There are significant gaps in the report, as much as we have seen it. There are photocopies [included in the report], some of which are not signed and which the JIT itself asks the Supreme Court to determine whether they hold any evidentiary value.”
“While our [legal ] team is working [on the report], I am putting my portion in front of you right now. Pages 245-248 of the repot say that Mr. Dar did not file income tax returns from 1981-2001-2. Being an economic expert, this amounts to tax evasion,” the finance minister recalled.
Dar proceeded to recount his experience with the JIT, claiming he only found out on July 3 that his tax returns from 1981-2002 had not been provided to the team by the Federal Bureau of Revenue.
“I told them that I will take disciplinary action against those who did not provide you with the requisite documents and I will send you the documents,” he claimed to have told the JIT.
“I told them that my tax guy had told me that after Gen Musharraf’s coup, my tax record had been seized by the National Accountability Bureau. I told them that NAB is your institution and you should find it. And even if you cannot find it then I will find it on my own. I retrieved my tax records and sent my returns from 2003-7 immediately on the same day,” he claimed.
“At 8.55 it was delivered to JIT, i have their receipt,” he claimed.
The finance minister then detailed his ‘hectic efforts’ to dig out old records from NAB’s Lahore and Islamabad offices and send the same to the FBR.
Dar then went on to contradict each of the conclusions drawn by the JIT after his interrogation, insisting that all his wealth can be traced and the statements can be audited.
“I challenge them that my record will be reconciled till the last penny,” he claimed.
Dar said he will submit record and offer to get it audited from an international firm. “Neither I was asked anything, nor a reply was sought from me and a finding was written in the report.”
Khawaja Saad Rafique said the JIT report contains material about which the respondents were not questioned when they appeared before the probe team.
Accusing the probe team of being partial, he said, “The JIT was not supposed to lead one-way traffic. Taking sides and being biased was not your job”.
The railways minister said his party will respond to offshore company allegations in the Supreme Court, with strong arguments.
Saad Rafique said that the JIT should have presented anything they had against each respondent.
“The basic rule for every investigation is that you should present anything you have against an accused,” he said.
“The JIT’s report is based in part on some stories, and the rest on making a mountain out of a mole hill,” he said.
“One more thing,” he continued, “We feel that a JIT consisting of six people cannot have done so much work in 60 days, even if they worked 24 hours a day,” Rafique alleged.
“This was a well-planned action, and it was in the making for the last year and a half,” he claimed.
“Some of the characters of this ‘Panama drama’ are [pulling the strings from] outside Pakistan,” he alleged.
He then turned his sights on the PPP, saying that the party should “look under their own charpayi” before they started talking about corruption, recalling public perceptions of wrongdoing and misappropriation that dogged the Asif Ali Zardari-led party during its last tenure.
Turning on Imran Khan, Rafique alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief had received foreign funding and had yet to explain them to the Election Commission.
In an apparent reference to the Supreme Court summoning the transcripts of his recent speeches, Rafique said that “I have been doing speeches since my youth and will continue to do so.”
“I request the Supreme Court to take notice of the speeches made by [PPP’s] Aitzaz Ahsan, [PTI’s] Imran Khan and [AML’s] Sheikh Rashid,” he added.