Islamabad [Pakistan]: Unimpressed with the arguments of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) counsel Hamid Khan in the Panamagate scandal accusing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children of laundering money to purchase their London properties, the Supreme Court has asked the former to build his case and not politick.
It was not as expected by the PTI when their senior counsel opened his arguments yesterday before the five-judge apex court bench hearing the Panamagate case. The counsel quoted at length from three speeches made by Sharif – on April 5, April 22 and May 16 – to proclaim his innocence before the nation, reports the Dawn.
To this, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that “instead of going into mind-numbing rhetoric, the counsel should have relied on the documents submitted by the Prime Minister and his family members”, adding that Khan’s case should be that the documents the respondents are relying on were wrong.
“Please focus on the [case] at hand,” Justice Saeed advised the petitioner’s counsel, adding that the court could not draw any conclusion on the basis of the Prime Minister’s speeches.
Justice Saeed also expressed his apprehension at the way the proceedings were going in this case and said that this hearing would likely continue until 2099.
When the counsel pointed out that Sharif had promised the nation he would quit if found guilty, Justice .Khosa reminded Khan that the Prime Minister had made that promise with himself, not with the counsel.
The PTI’s lawyer also lamented that the speeches failed to offer any explanation of how the Sharifs generated the capital to install factories in Dubai when they had gone broke after the nationalisation of their industries nor did they explain where the family found the money to revive sick industrial units that were handed over to them in 1983.
The court, more interested in the matter at hand, nudged the counsel in the direction of a financial investigation report carried out by an agency in the British Virgin Islands in 1999 for the Al-Taufiq case, where a suspicious activity report had also been generated.
At one point, when the counsel contested the Prime Minister’s claims regarding the payment of Rs. 360 million in tax, Justice Khosa observed that it was not the court’s job to scrutinise the entire life of a person. The judge said that the matter of paying taxes was irrelevant to the case at hand and asked the counsel to focus his arguments on the London properties.
The Chief Justice also emphasized that in criminal trials, the benefit of the doubt always went in the favour of the suspect, adding that the counsel’s arguments were not a substitute for tangible proof.
“We are giving you the chance to address the court for the sake of our satisfaction, but after hearing you for over an hour, we are still at the same position,” the bench observed.
“On the basis of your arguments and replies filed, it seems [the case] is not so simple that we may straightaway come to a definite conclusion and pass an order unless there is a detailed inquiry within a solid time frame, conducted by an inquiry commission headed by a Supreme Court judge,” the bench said.
At one point, Justice Khosa even quipped it appeared that the judges were more prepared than the lawyers in the case, especially since an elected Prime Minister was in the dock.
The apex court will resume hearing in the Panamagate matter on November 30. (ANI)