SC issues notices to PM, others in Panamagate petitions

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PM welcomes proceedings by apex court

Zahid Chaudhry

Islamabad—The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices in the Panama Papers case to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Hasan Nawaz, Hussain Nawaz, Capt (R) Safdar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Director General Federal Investigation Agency, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue, and the Attorney-General. A three-member bench of the SC headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, took up the petitions seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and Awami Muslim League in their petitions moved the apex court to set up a commission to investigate Panama Leaks issue and for the disqualification of the Prime Minister. The court remarked that the decision to deem the petitions admissible for hearing will be made after hearing the stance of Attorney-General and all parties mentioned in the petition. The hearing was adjourned for two weeks. Following the hearing, PTI chief Imran Khan talked to reporters and vowed to bring “king” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif under law. He said the court hearing was the first step in the accountability process. He requested the SC for speedy trial of the case. He added that they have been waiting to get justice for more than three years. “Justice delayed is justice denied,” he asserted. “I welcome the judicial proceedings in connection with Panama Papers,” Nawaz said. Chairing a consultative meeting in Islamabad Thursday, he said he believes in rule of law, complete transparency, and upholding of the Constitution. Nawaz Sharif said people’s court is consistently giving its verdict in by-elections and it will be better to wait for Supreme Court’s decision as well before going for a strike or sit-in.
He said he had announced to form a commission comprising retired judges of the Supreme Court soon after the Panama issue came into fore so that facts could be revealed to the people. He said on opposition’s demand, a letter was also written to the chief justice of the apex court to form a judicial commission to probe the matter.
The Prime Minister said that the government also formed a parliamentary committee to prepare consensus Terms of Reference (ToRs), in light of Supreme Court’s directions. He said despite having numerical superiority in the parliament, equal representation was given to the opposition in the ToRs committee. He said it is unfortunate that no consensus was reached, despite sincere efforts from the government side.
Nawaz Sharif said that the government also tabled a bill in parliament to make the proposed Judicial Commission more effective and powerful, but the opposition tabled a parallel bill against the constitutional and legal obligations.
The Prime Minister said he had presented his stance on the issue with great detail in the National Assembly, but the opposition kept busy in negative propaganda hindering transparent and impartial investigations into Panama issue.
Meanwhile, talking to the media persons, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif says accountability is the basic pillar of the PML-N government and ready to answer at any forum.
Khawaja Asif said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had voluntarily presented himself for accountability by writing letter to the Supreme Court for formation of the Judicial Commission to probe the allegations regarding the Panama Papers. He said PTI and others had moved the apex court for the investigation into Panama Papers’ issue and the court issued notices. The government welcomes the move.
The Defence Minister said Nawaz Sharif is ready to appear before any forum, including the Supreme Court, parliament, the Election Commission, and people’s court.
He also demanded of PTI Chief Imran Khan to give details of the misappropriation of the donations collected for Shaukat Khanum Hospital and flood affected people. Saad Rafiq said there is no justification for Imran Khan to lockdown Islamabad after the Supreme Court took up for hearing the petitions over Panama Papers.

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