Panama leaks, confusion galore



Mohammad Jamil

Since the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu of the Panama Leaks, leaders of the PML-N and opposition parties have been giving their interpretations of the remarks by the honorable judges during the proceedings, which they should not have done. Confusion galore in the wake of accusations and counter-accusations between the respondents in the Panama leaks case and the members of the Joint Investigations Team (JIT) formed by the bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. PML-N leaders criticise the way JIT is conducting investigations, whereas many analysts are of the view that campaign against JIT is meant to make it controversial. First of all Hussain Nawaz had objected to the way the JIT was conducting the investigations, followed by PML- N leaders’ onslaught on the members of the JIT. Then PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi openly threatened those conducting investigations against Sharif family.
Addressing a gathering Nehal Hashmi had said: “Remember, you are in service now but you will retire one day; we will make it hard for you and your family to live in Pakistan.” Naturally he was not referring to the politicians but members of the JIT formed by the Supreme of Pakistan. Chief Justice of Pakistan had taken notice of Hashmi’s outpourings and later he was served a notice for contempt of court. Earlier, PML-N leaders had opposed the inclusion of two members of the JIT, and later raised questions about two more JIT members.
However, the confrontation between judiciary and the government and clash between the institutions is fraught with perils; and if restraint is not shown the country can descend into chaos and anarchy. Meanwhile, President National Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmad wrote a letter to Supreme Court Registrar about the alleged maltreatment and harassment by the JIT.
NBP President Saeed Ahmad had said: “I understand that the court has ruled that all those who appear in front of JIT should be treated with respect. However, I felt during questioning I was insulted, threatened and subjected to undue pressure.”
On the other hand on June 7, head of the JIT had apprised the Supreme Court about the problems JIT members were facing, on which court ordered him to submit separate request for the case. In pursuance of the above instructions, head of the JIT Wajid Zia submitted a petition to Supreme Court pertaining to the problems faced by the JIT during the probe. In his petition he has told the Supreme Court regarding security concerns, criticism on members, external pressure and other obstacles faced by the JIT. The petition was prepared by Wajid Zia and Irfan Naeem Mangi of the Balochistan NAB.
The special three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Aijaz Afzal is hearing the case and will give its verdict on the charges leveled by both sides on each other. The NAB nominee for the JIT, Irfan Naeem Mangi, was issued a show-cause notice for ‘removal from service’ on April 25 by the NAB in the light of the apex court judgment on illegal appointments in NAB vide Supreme Court order dated 31-03-2017 in suo moto case No. 13/2016 and in accordance with section 8.02 of NAB’s TCS. Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Aftab Sultan has confirmed that information on members of the joint investigation team (JIT) – tasked with investigating the Sharif family’s offshore properties – were gathered because of the high-profile nature of the Panama Papers case. However, the questions are being raised as to why this action has been taken at this point in time when important case is in the apex court.
It has to be mentioned that the process of formation of JIT was started April 20 2017, and show-cause notice was issued to Mr. Mangi on April 25 2017. Some analysts on TV channels believe that it was an effort to make JIT controversial on the grounds that the NAB nominee was facing a show-cause notice, which could result in his removal from the service. In its submission to the Supreme Court the NAB denied that the show-cause notice to one of the members of the JIT was issued with malafide intentions. “Show-cause notice was issued to Mr. Mangi pursuant an order of this Honourable Court like 77 other persons prior to formation of JIT. The show-cause to Irfan Mangi dated 25th April 2017 stated: “You are informed through this notice that your initial appointment in NAB as Deputy Director was inconsistent with TSC 8.02 & NAO, 2002.”
The member of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Irfan Naeem Mangi has submitted reply to National Accountability Bureau show cause notice requesting NAB in his reply to keep the notice pending or to withdraw it till the probe for Panama case is completed due to his commitment with JIT investigations. It is worth noting that the JIT formed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan has the mandate to investigate, question and ask for documents to support the claim of prime minister’s sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz for having acquired the properties out of the genuine income and no money laundering or illegal transactions had taken place. However, the commentriat and analysts in TV channels talk shows say that the timing of issuing such a notice is intriguing. In reply submitted to the Supreme Court, the DG NAB has conceded that the agency collected details of the members of the joint investing team (JIT) investigating the Panamagate case.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.
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