Cannot hang people over newspaper clippings: SC

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No issue in Panama Leaks case to be left unattended; PM responds to SC’s questions; Sharif family can be summoned if stance on London flats contradicted

Islamabad

Supreme Court on Thursday observed that case like Panama leaks had never come in court but no issue in the case would be left unattended and told Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that “If you start hanging people on the basis of news clippings then your client will not survive either.”
The hearing of the Panamagate case resumed on Thursday where the five-member bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, was apprised about details of the offices held by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his political career, reports Sabah news agency.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan submitted the premier’s replies to questions posed by the Supreme Court a day earlier. Makhdoom Ali Khan, submitted details regarding various offices that Nawaz Sharif held during his political career.
The lawyer told the court that Nawaz Sharif had served as finance minister of Punjab from April 25, 1981 to February 28, 1985. He was CM Punjab from April 9, 1985 to May 30, 1988.
Nawaz Sharif then went on to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1990 to 1993. He was the Opposition Leader from 1993-1996 till his second stint as the country’s premier began from 1997 till 1999, when his government was dismissed and he was ousted from the country by Gen. (r) Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup.
The question became relevant in view of the allegations of a conflict of interest, especially when there was no money trail in the shape of banking transactions to establish how sale proceeds of the Gulf Steel Mills in the UAE got invested in Jeddah or Qatar, Justice Khosa observed earlier, wondering whether the then prime minister was using his official position for the transfer of the money.
Explaining further, Justice Khosa had observed that it was in 1999 that the family of the prime minister went to Saudi Arabia and it seemed that as sum of 12 million dirham proceeds from the sale of Gulf Steel remained parked somewhere and was even available for investment in Jeddah after a gap of almost two decades.
Case cannot be solved by itself, all counsels in case have to assist the court to find the truth because every citizen wants to hear truth, Justice Azmat Saeed added.
Court also directed to provide information about when Hussain Nawaz started business, his academic details and when Nawaz Sharif separated himself from business.
PTI’s lawyer Naeem Bokhari asked the court to omit Qatari prince’s letter on which Justice Asif Khosa said that Sharif family’s case is dependable over this letter. If the court skips Qatari letter from hearing, it will be of no use for you as well, he added.
The Court observed that the members of Sharif family can be summoned if they contradict their stance regarding London flats.
“If Sharif family contradicts previous interviews regarding London flats, the top court can summon them,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said.
The statement came after PTI lawyer Naeem Bukhari referred to interviews of PM Nawaz and his children to establish their contradictory stance on London properties. However, Justice Khosa observed that if anyone denies their media statements then they’ll have to record statements.
While, another judge on the bench, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, warned the PTI lawyer, “If you start hanging people on the basis of news clippings then your client [Imran] will not survive either.”
Justice Khosa pointed out that the premier never stated that London properties are owned by his son, Hussain Nawaz. Likewise, during interviews Hussain referred to the luxury apartments in London as “our flats” and not “my flats”.
The top court has sought a timeline of the public offices PM Nawaz has held during his entire political career in order to determine possible conflict of interests in overseeing his family business and officiating official responsibilities. “Do we have any document or declaration which could establish that the PM disassociated from family business in the 1990s,” Justice Khosa asked.
The bench has also sought a transcript of recent interviews of company manager, Haroon Pasha, who said the entire documentary record of the Sharif family money trail is available and it has been provided to lawyers to produce before the court. However, Justice Khosa observed that the premier’s counsel on December 9 expressed inability to produce the money trail and said they have no record.
Further, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan remarked that if the Qatari letter is hearsay then it cannot be used as evidence in this case. Sharif’s children claimed that the family had made investments in real estate in Qatar.
Agenies add: However, Justice Shaikh Azmat Saeed asked the counsel twice not to muddy the water when the counsel reminded the court about precedents where it had taken newspaper reports into account before deciding a number of cases.
Bokhari cited an April 10, 2000, interview of Begum Kalsoom Nawaz by Rory McCarthy of The Guardian in which she conceded that London flats were bought because her son was studying there.
At this, Justice Saeed again cautioned the counsel that he was entering into a dangerous territory, adding that if “we start hanging people on television interviews or news paper clippings then your client will not survive either.”
“I propose to display the interviews of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif children on the ownership of the London properties and we can ask the other party (defendants) to deny these,” Justice Khosa observed.
At the end of proceedings Shahid Hamid, the counsel for Maryam Safdar and Captain Safdar sought adjournment till Monday but bench rejected his request saying that every request would be entertained except adjournment.
Later the court adjourned the hearing of case till today at 9-30 AM.

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