The Tribune – 1981 plane hijack: Captain orders legal aid for duo

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 20 July 2017. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today directed the state’s legal aid team to extend help to the two Sikhs who were facing double jeopardy, prosecution or punishment of a person twice for the same offence, for hijacking a Srinagar-bound Indian Airlines plane and taking it to Lahore in 1981.

The Chief Minister said Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, after completing their sentence in Pakistan, were now facing trial in India on sedition charges, which their counsel described as a “classic example of double jeopardy”.

He said the duo’s life would be spent facing one trial after the other for the “same set of facts”.

While the hijacking was condemnable, any attempt to prosecute the two who had already served life term in Pakistan for the crime would amount to a serious travesty of justice, the Chief Minister has said in a statement.

Damdami Taksal opposes fresh trial

Amritsar: Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal on Thursday slammed the Delhi Police for filing a supplementary challan in a court to initiate a fresh trial against Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh.

Damdami Taksal head Harnam Singh Khalsa asked the Chief Justice of India to intervene in the matter.

Khalsa cited the case of Bholanath Pandey and Devendar Nath Pandey, who had hijacked a plane in 1978 to seek the release of then opposition leader Indira Gandhi and the withdrawal of all cases against her son Sanjay Gandhi.

“The diametrically opposite approach in the two cases reveals double standards. The Congress gave the party ticket to the Pandeys, who went on to win the Assembly elections. In both incidents, the hijackers neither possessed weapons nor harmed passengers. They wanted to register a protest and seek the release of their respective leaders,” he added.

Dawn – Where did funds for properties in KSA, London, and Dubai come from: Supreme Court judges ask PM’s lawyer

Haseeb Bhatti

Updated 19 July 2017. A day after the Supreme Court (SC) pointedly inquired about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s money trail, the premier’s counsel reiterated that his client had presented details of all his assets to the joint investigation team (JIT) that was mandated to probe allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Senior counsel Khawaja Harris on Wednesday told the three-member apex bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, that the prime minister had provided details of all assets and sources of income in the form of tax returns.

“We will take a decision after looking at all the evidence,” Justice Ejaz Afzal told Harris as he completed his arguments before the bench. “Bring the [money trail] record and the discussion on the documents will end.”

Ishaq Dar’s lawyer begins arguments

“Have you also brought a Qatari letter with you?” Justice Azmat Saeed asked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s lawyer, Tariq Hasan, as he began his arguments before the bench.

The lawyer’s defence bore similarities to the arguments presented by Harris, as he told the court that the JIT had exceeded its mandate. An objection to the JIT’s report was included in the documents submitted to the apex court on Dar’s behalf on Monday.

“If you have so many objections, you should go to the trial court,” Justice Azmat Saeed remarked.

Hasan alleged that Dar had been “dragged” into the case by the JIT and did not actually have any direct involvement, to which Justice Ijazul Ahsan replied, “I can tell you Ishaq Dar’s connection to this case.”

The name of the finance minister’s nephew is included in the transactions relating to the Gulf Steel Mills, the judge elaborated, adding that money from the Hill Metal Establishment was transferred to the minister’s son, Ali Dar.

The judges quizzed the lawyer on his statement that the JIT had been “dishonest” in its investigations and hadn’t reviewed the submitted documents. “You had said that you did not submit any documents, yet you’re giving these statements,” said Justice Ijazul Ahsan, asking the lawyer to submit further documents at the next hearing (Thursday).

Dar’s confession in Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference

Echoing the objection by the PM’s lawyer, Hasan said that the JIT did not have the mandate to recommend reopening cases.

Referring to the Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference, Justice Azmat Saeed pointed out that Ishaq Dar had refused to accept his confessional statement in the reference that was recorded before a district magistrate in Lahore on April 25, 2000, as his own.

In the statement, Dar had reportedly admitted to money laundering of $14.86 million, and opening two bank accounts under the names of Sikandar Masood Qazi and Talat Masood Qazi for Nawaz Sharif’s brother.

During the initial Panamagate case hearing, Dar and his lawyers had maintained that the statement was “written under duress.” Speaking to the media after his appearance before the JIT, Dar had said that the statement was not written by him.

“If the confessional statement is deemed false, than the pardon [in the case] will also be unacceptable,” said the judge.

Sharif family’s foreign properties

During his arguments on Wednesday morning, Harris said that according to the laws of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), “an individual cannot be held accountable for the properties and assets that are in the name of his wife and children.” He added that the PM’s relatives had also not concealed any assets.

In reference to the judges’ observation that the PM had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, Harris responded that the team had not inquired about any other properties, maintaining that his client had not concealed any assets, nor did he own any benami properties.

“The real question is where did the money for [the Sharif family’s] properties in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and London come from?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked. “We have not yet received an answer to this fundamental question.”

The judges told the lawyer that Chapter Four (Gulf Steel Mills/Gifts) of the JIT’s report contains “dangerous” documents and talks about the trust deed of the four Avenfield flats in London’s Park Lane neighbourhood, executed between Maryam Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz in February 2006, which was declared false by the JIT in its report over.

Harris told the bench that the PM, when asked about the trust deed by the JIT, had acknowledged that he was aware of the settlement, but did not know the details. He added that his client can only be held accountable for the properties under his name, maintaining that the PM has no connection to the London flats.

“Are there any records available with Hassan and Hussain Nawaz that can prove that the PM does not have any connection with the London flats?” asked Justice Ejaz Afzal.

If Hussain is the beneficial owner of the flats, then proof for the same should be provided, he remarked, noting that in the documents received by the court, Maryam Nawaz is shown as the beneficial owner.

“The connection between the PM and the London flats is based on speculation. There are no documents available to prove this,” the lawyer said.

“Why do you keep insisting that all the records are available?” Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the lawyer, directing him to show the documents relating to the agreement signed with Minerva Financial Services Limited, the holding company for Nescoll Limited and Nielson Enterprises Limited, the owners of the four London flats, to ascertain who signed them.

Where is the money trail?

During Tuesday’s hearing, the apex bench had asked about the PM’s money trail, saying, “We’ve been waiting for it since day one.” The prime minister and his family members had remained evasive in answering the questions put forward by the JIT, added the judges.

The bench had reminded the PM’s lawyer that the onus of establishing a money trail after claiming ownership of the Avenfield flats was on the Sharif family, adding that the money trail of the flats “remained shrouded in mystery, even to this day.”

The apex bench had also asked the counsel point-blank whether the judges should form their own opinion over the concealment of facts by his client or refer the matter to an accountability court.

Harris had argued that the JIT had exceeded its mandate by recommending the SC to reopen 15 cases against his client. He also questioned the authenticity of the documents obtained from the UK and the UAE that were included in the JIT’s report.

The bench had resumed the Panamagate case on Monday, nearly three months after ordering the formation of a JIT to investigate the allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family.

Presenting his statement before the bench on Monday, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) lead counsel Naeem Bokhari had requested that PM Nawaz Sharif should be asked to come to the court for questioning. During his arguments, Bokhari highlighted several findings of the JIT report that he said “incriminate” the Sharif family.

The Tribune – Thirty-six years after plane hijacking, two Sikh militants face trial

Granted two-day bail; have already served life sentence in Pakistan

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 18 July 2017. Thirty-six years after a Srinagar-bound Indian Airlines plane with 111 passengers and six crew members was hijacked and taken to Lahore, two of the five Sikh hijackers appeared before a Delhi court to face sedition charges.

Accused Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, who have already served life term in Pakistan for the 1981 crime, appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler, who granted them two-day interim bail.

After serving their sentence, Tejinder and Satnam had moved to Canada and the US, respectively, and were deported to India in 1998 and 1999. The other hijackers, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh, are not in India.

Belonging to the Dal Khalsa, the hijackers had demanded the release of then Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was arrested on September 20 that year in a murder case.

Asking the investigating officer to file a report, the ACMM posted the matter for further hearing on July 20.

On behalf of the two accused, senior advocate Mohit Mathur and advocate Manisha Bhandari contended that the duo had already served life sentence and spent 35 years of their life in litigation.

Terming it a “classic example of double jeopardy”, the lawyers said the duo’s entire life would be spent in facing one trial after the other for the “same set of facts”.

Mathur said they couldn’t be tried again for the same incident under a different name, adding that the accused must be discharged.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh, who accompanied the accused, said there had been a travesty of justice in the case as the Indian Government had put them on trial after 36 years on “sedition” charges, ignoring their life imprisonment in Pakistan for the same offence.

However, the prosecution and the court maintained that the principle of double jeopardy did not apply as the offences for which they were tried and convicted in Pakistan were different from the ones mentioned in the present chargesheet.

The Delhi Police had filed a supplementary chargesheet in a court on September 29, 2011, under sedition charges. After taking cognisance of the chargesheet, the court had asked the accused to appear before it on July 18 for a fresh trial in connection with the crime that took place on September 29, 1981.

In May 2017, the Delhi High Court had refused to quash the supplementary chargesheet against the accused and asked them to appear before the trial court.

Dawn – Panama drama

Dr Niaz Murtaza

Op/Ed, 18 July 2017. The moral and practical cases are clear. The prime minister must himself quit, JIT report apart, as for months he has failed to prove legitimate his family UK flats.

While his sons are the owners, his role as clan head and recipient of big gifts from them morally cripples him. Sordid details of alleged huge wealth are shamefully out in public. Distracted, he cannot govern and will damage Pakistan and its democracy.

But he may quit only if he feels the Supreme Court will fire him. The court started an inquiry based on mere though strong suspicion via its wide 184(3) optional powers. Many had criticised this unprecedented act. But it has so far docked a sitting prime minister and the precedent is established.

Thus, such inquiries will now be seen as useful action templates against others. However, the scope of 184(3) in such cases must be defined to avoid swamping the court that must coax the government to make NAB stronger to keep its own role exceptional.

While that happens, it must also ensure that others accused of titanic crimes, eg Zardari, Musharraf and Altaf, are tried soon to dispel any charges of judicial selectivity.

Even with Sharif, sticking to the law or strong precedence is important to avoid political upheavals. This means conviction only after a fair trial in a trial court, even starting trial only if the JIT report goes beyond suspicion towards physical evidence.

A flawed democracy has shown its edge over 40 years of unelected rule.

The law gives the right to disqualify to the ECP but some lawmakers have been disqualified directly by the courts, mostly where guilt could be shown easily sans trial, eg, degrees proven faked. Even if the JIT gives obvious proof against Nawaz, the ECP must be allowed to decide.

If he is not disqualified, then we may hit rough weather if the PTI starts street protest spread over months without result like in 2014. Irrespective, Pakistan will remain in limbo till the next polls. Sharif can spare us all this by resigning.

Pakistan is seeing real accountability of its top leaders for the first time, invariably under democracy. In weeding out corrupt leaders electorally and now legally, a nine-year-old flawed democracy has shown its edge over 40 years of unelected rule.

Had we stuck to democracy instead of looking towards Pindi, things would have been much better politically today. Some claim that this affair stems from the security establishment wanting to pre-empt a meek Sharif from being more assertive once he gains a Senate majority and a fourth term.

This idea cannot be rejected outright. But neither can it be accepted without proof, which may be impossible to get given their opaque ways. In the past, they have acted against civilians not toeing their line. Are they now so bold and proactive to act against a future uncertain threat?

It is tough to form even initial views on this issue. Such rumours, even if true, must not stop Sharif’s trial. But they make it more crucial that the trial meets high standards of proof and process. The rule of law means not just that crooks are tried but also that the trials are fair.

Sharif’s exit would not end civil-military tensions, which are rooted in the simple reality that Pindi’s security policies run Pakistan. Political rulers soon grasp this reality and resent so many critical calls being off-limit for them. This starts a tug of war between the twin cities.

We know about generals (wrongly) betraying their civilian benefactors: Ayub, Zia and Musharraf. But civilians (Bhutto and Sharif) groomed by the security establishment have (rightly) turned against it too. The same may happen with Imran, even if he now has the army nod.

The man is not money hungry like Sharif, but power hungry and hates sharing power and limelight more than Sharif. So, ties between him and the security establishment may not be easy if he wins. His victory is iffy even if both father and daughter are barred.

The Sharifs are a big clan and some will survive legally to run. The PML-N, representing strong Punjabi groups, will not disappear like PML-Q. But the two right-wing Punjab parties may become more even politically.

Some say Panama will end sleaze in Pakistan. Sleaze originates from the needs of vast sections of our economy. With billions of dollars of capital flows coming from China, which is only slightly less corrupt than us, the needs of much of both local and foreign capital will encourage sleaze and low rule of law (barring security).

Morally speaking, sleaze must end. But the moral lens is only prescriptive, not predictive like social sciences lenses. However, the former is proactive, the latter passive. Only by using both can we tackle sleaze. The bi-lens view reveals long-term democratic struggle as the best tool against sleaze.

The writer heads INSPIRING Pakistan, a progressive policy unit

The News – JIT ‘exceeded mandate’: Sharif family challenges report in SC

Islamabad, 17 July 2017. Sharif family on Monday challenged the final report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) terming it biased and going beyond mandate and pleaded the Supreme Court to annul it.

The sources privy to the development said the ruling family has raised various objections over the JIT report for its findings without using testified documents and the sources.

The petition also alleges ‘biased’ attitude of the JIT members towards Sharif family.

The six-member JIT constituted by the apex court under April 20th verdict submitted its report on July 10 after probing the financial dealings of the Sharifs for 60 days. The report accused the family of being untruthful and having assets beyond means.

The 10th volume, dealing with the Mutual Legal Assistance correspondence, has been kept under wraps as replies are still awaited from some foreign countries to the letters written by the JIT.

The four-member legal team lead by Khwaja Haris was also expected to seek time to study the voluminous report and file a reply on it as the lawyers were not in a position to respond to each and every allegation penned down in the findings because of their expansive nature.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s counsel has also challenged the JIT conclusions.

The Sharif family is also said to be exploring different options including submission of an application to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar to form a new bench instead of the present one.

If it did so, the top judge will be required to take a decision on this plea as required by the law. It is the prerogative and exclusive authority of the chief justice to form benches.

The present three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, may also choose to refer the matter to the chief justice for establishment of a larger bench or sending the case to another panel, according to constitutional brains.

Dawn – RAW operating from Afghanistan to create unrest in Pakistan: General Zubair Hayat

Karachi, 15 July 2017. Pakistan is fully aware of the threats emanating from hostile intelligence agencies, especially Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), against the country and the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chairman Joint Chiefs of the Staff Committee, General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, said this while speaking as the chief guest at a ceremony of the 107th Midshipmen commissioning term and 16th Short Service Commission Course at the Pakistan Naval Academy outside Karachi on Saturday.

He said these foreign intelligence agencies are operating from Afghanistan and other locations to foment unrest in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan.

“Their designs [and] oblique actions to sabotage CPEC are also well known,” he said.

General Hayat said Pakistan is confronting adversaries who are involved in an “indirect sub-conventional warfare against us”.

Pointing to the existential conventional threat emanating from India, General Hayat said asymmetry has reached a critical threshold in the east.

In order to counter such threats, the country’s armed forces are committed to undertaking “synergetic national efforts”, he said.

“Make no mistake, we will beat back the enemy’s design.”

General Hayat said Pakistan’s security forces along with law-enforcement agencies are playing a crucial role in tackling “external state-sponsored elements operating through local proxies”.

Former defence secretary General (retd) Alam Khattak had said last year that RAW has established a special cell at its Head Quarters in New Delhi to sabotage CPEC and the plan is executed via Afghanistan.

“RAW and Afghan NDS have launched joint secret operations against Pakistan by using three Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif,” he said at the time.

General Hayat in his address said Pakistan seeks a harmonious co-existence with all countries, especially its neighbours, adding that it will continue to make efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

“Stability, security, peace in Afghanistan is fundamental to the security of Pakistan.”

He, however, warned that Pakistan’s quest for peace and stability is not a “one-way traffic” but it has to factor in national interest and sovereign rights.

General Hayat congratulated the passing-out cadets for successfully completing their training. He said maritime security all along the coast, especially Gwadar, had assumed added significance in view of CPEC developments.

The commission term included 100 cadets, including 72 Pakistan Navy cadets and 28 cadets from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.

The Hindu – India must move back: China

Foreign Ministry says stand-off can be ended at an early date if this happens

Atul Aneja

Beijing, 12 July 2017. China on Wednesday signalled its intent to end the stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam area at an early date, if Indian forces withdraw to what it called the “Indian side of the boundary”.

Adopting a less harsh tone than in the recent past, when it had characterised India’s alleged intrusion into Chinese territory as a “betrayal” and insisted that the withdrawal of Indian forces was a “precondition” for talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said: “We once again require India to withdraw the border troops to the Indian side of the boundary and properly settle this dispute at an early date.”

Responding to remarks by the former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon during an interview with The Hindu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the current face-off was different from the past.

“China has pointed out many times the illegal trespass of Indian border troops of the mutually recognised border line into China’s territory.

This is different in nature from the frictions that happened in the undefined sections of the boundary. The Sikkim section has special historical background and this is the only defined boundary between China and India. And this is different from the undefined boundary in the east, middle, and west,” he said.

“According to the 1890 convention, the boundary has been defined and both Chinese and Indian governments have recognised this. And this convention is effective for both countries.”

The stand-off is happening near the western tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China.

“The Sikkim tri-junction is basically the watershed between the Amo (also called the Torsa river) and the Teesta rivers in the Chumbi Valley, so it is clear, and parts of it have been settled.

Since 1960, when this was discussed, both sides have constantly said that this boundary is not such a problem. But the tri-junction remained to be settled, and that is a part of the issue,” Mr. Menon said.

Separately, asked to comment on whether China was ready to engage in the resolution of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, in the wake of the recent exchange of fire across the Line of Control (LoC), Mr. Geng said: “China is willing to play a constructive role in improving relations between India and Pakistan.”

Kashmir issue

Significantly, he also highlighted the Kashmir dispute outside its bilateral context, by pointing out that it had attracted the attention of the “international community”. Besides, Mr Geng flagged the exchange of fire across the Line of Control (LoC) as a factor undermining “regional stability.”

“Both India and Pakistan are important countries in South Asia. The conflicts occurred near the Line of Control, Kashmir. This will not only harm the peace and stability of the two countries but also the peace and tranquillity of the region.”

The spokesperson hoped that “the relevant sides can do more things that are conducive to the peace and stability of the region and avoid the escalation of tensions”.

Dawn – JIT says PM couldn’t ‘satisfactorily answer most of the questions’


Karachi, 12 July 2017. The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations found Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “could not satisfactorily answer most of the questions” during his appearance on June 15.

The JIT report, submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, said he was “evasive, speculative and non-cooperative”.

“He was generally evasive and seemed preoccupied during the interview,” the report said. “Major part of his statement was based on ‘hearsay’. He remained non-committal, speculative and at times non-cooperative while recording his statement before the JIT,” said the team’s analysis of the prime minister’s statement.

The News – Ishaq Dar strongly rebuts allegations against him: Spokesman

Islamabad, 9 July 2017. Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar vehemently rejects and strongly rebuts all the allegations publicized by a section of media against him over the past few days, a spokesman said here Sunday.

The spokesman for Senator Ishaq Dar, in a statement here, said the following allegations made by the media were false, malicious, obnoxious and mala fide allegations against the Finance Minister.

1) That during the appearance before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for the Panama case, Senator Ishaq Dar told the JIT that not only is he willing to act as witness in the case against the prime minister’s family, he is even willing to give any required statement against the prime minister’s family;

2) That Senator Ishaq Dar is seeking citizenship of the United States of America for himself and his family;

3) That Senator Ishaq Dar has secretly married a member of the National Assembly; and

4) That motor vehicle tax (token tax) of Mercedes Benz car, registration No.MV-109, registered in the name of Senator Ishaq Dar, has never been paid since it was purchased in 2008.

The spokesman said all the above-mentioned claims were utter rubbish and malicious disinformation, intended to cause harm and damage to the Senator’s personal and professional reputation.

He also questioned how any media person can claim to be aware of the discussions held during the proceedings of the JIT, including the statements made by persons summoned by the JIT.

The spokesman confirmed that Senator Dar had made payments of the motor vehicle tax in each year since 2008 for his said vehicle till June 30, 2018. He said appropriate actions were are being taken against the responsible persons/parties, with respect to all of the aforementioned allegations.

The spokesman further highlighted that all the false and baseless allegations against Senator Dar had only been made and publicized by a section of the media over the past few days, following the press talk given by Senator Dar on Monday July 03,2017 outside the Federal Judicial Academy, in which he revealed certain facts regarding Imran Khan, who had been unable to clarify any of the those till date.

Dawn – JIT submits Panama probe report to SC today

Malik Asad

Islamabad, 10 July 2017. The most powerful, and perhaps, most controversial joint investigation team (JIT) in the country’s history will submit its final report on alleged money laundering by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the Supreme Court today (Monday).

Besides other evidence, the report will consist of the statements of PM Sharif; Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif; the PM’s children Hussain, Hassan and Maryam Nawaz Sharif; son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar; PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi; friend Javed Kayani and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the father-in-law of the PM’s younger daughter.

The government, however, has already shown its hand, vowing not to accept the investigation report in the absence of the statement of former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, a key defence witness.

Sources say that the report may not be as damaging for the ruling family as they are anticipating. “Though it won’t be pleasant, it is not the worst for the Sharif family as such,” a source confided.

According to those privy to the investigation, the case hinges on two parallel money trails for the Park Lane apartments: one based on the Rehman Malik investigation, and the other provided by Hussain Nawaz to the apex court.

FIA recommends booking SECP chief for record tampering

The Rehman Malik investigation of 1998 connected the purchase of the London properties with alleged money laundering.

In addition, the ‘forced confession’ of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is also being used to establish a case against the Sharif family. This was why the JIT summoned almost all important characters named in both the Rehman Malik report and Mr Dar’s ‘confession’.

The JIT also summoned National Bank of Pakistan CEO Saeed Ahmed, and some officials from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), among others.

Another important character, a British-Pakistani Kashif Mehmood Qazi, was also summoned. According to Rehman Malik’s account, four bank accounts in the Qazi family’s name were used to allegedly launder the Sharifs’ money.

Mr Qazi had initially refused to testify before the JIT, citing security concerns, but sources said the investigation team had managed to convince him to file a statement.

Though sacked Federal Investigation Agency officer Inam R. Sehri also submitted a 250-page report to the JIT, which supported the money trail identified by Rehman Malik, the sources said that the JIT did not give much weight to it.

Mr Sehri also offered to become a witness against the Sharifs, but was not summoned by the investigation team, sources in the former FIA officer’s family confirmed to Dawn.

Qatari evidence

Since the JIT did not record the statement of the former Qatari prime minster, it is being assumed that the JIT will not consider the money trail provided by Hussain Nawaz, who was summoned by the JIT six times and examined for around 30 hours in all.

The leadership of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is visibly unhappy with this development, and makes no secret of its disdain for the report, which does not include the statement of Sheikh Al-Thani. This message was clearly conveyed by four key cabinet ministers at a press conference on Saturday.

The JIT reportedly wrote to Sheikh Al-Thani thrice, and the former Qatari prime minster responded in writing. Sources said there were differences over the issue of jurisdiction; the JIT wanted him to testify him inside the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan and offered to host him in Pakistan or record his statement at the Pakistani embassy at Doha.

Sheikh Al-Thani, on the other hand, believes that since he is not subject to Pakistani law, he may be deposed by the JIT at his palace.

There is precedent for the recording of a foreign national’s statement outside Pakistani territorial jurisdiction: a JIT probing the murder of former PM Benazir Bhutto recorded the statement of US lobbyist Mark Siegel in 2009 at his residence.

On the basis of this statement, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had implicated former president retired General Pervez Musharraf in the case.

Later, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi recorded Mr Siegel’s second statement under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code via video link from the US embassy in 2015.

During hearing of the Panama Papers case at the Supreme Court, one of the judges on the implementation bench had remarked that the Qatari evidence could be discarded if Sheikh Al-Thani did not testify before the JIT.

NAB trail

The JIT also recorded the statements of three chairmen of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), including the incumbent chief. It also recorded the statements of other officials from NAB, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other institutions.

The JIT questioned the first NAB chairman, retired Lt Gen Syed Mohammad Amjad, under whom the bureau had filed three corruption references against the Sharif family.

He was also the NAB chief that pardoned Ishaq Dar, who was then an accused in the corruption references, but later turned approver.

The second NAB chairman, retired Lt General Munir Hafeez, was also examined by the JIT.

According to a former NAB deputy prosecutor general, the Hudaibya Paper Mills reference was adjourned sine die while Gen Hafeez was the chairman.

Incumbent NAB chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry was the last witness examined by the JIT.

Sources said Mr Chaudhry was asked why NAB did not appeal the Lahore High Court (LHC) order to quash the Hudaibya reference, and why he did not authorise a re-investigation.

In response, the NAB chief is said to have handed over a minute sheet, signed by then-prosecutor general K.K. Agha, along with his legal opinion for why the LHC order should not be appealed.

Besides the prosecutor general, an additional deputy prosecutor general who handled the case also opined against filing an appeal, Mr Chaudhry told the JIT.

The documents, handed over to the JIT by the NAB chairman, explained that since the “elder Sharif (Nawaz Sharif’s father) is now deceased”, it would be a waste of “NAB’s time and resources” and may be presumed as “victimisation”.
It was “the opinion of the prosecution that this is not a fit case for an appeal,” the documents maintain.

SECP tampering

Separately, an FIA team investigating allegations of record tampering by the SECP has found its chairman, Zafarul Haq Hijazi, guilty of altering the records of Chaudhry Sugar Mills, owned by the Sharif family, and has recommended the registration of an FIR against him.

The FIA submitted the 28-page report to the apex court on Saturday, where it endorsed the JIT’s allegation of record-tampering against the SECP.

Besides the registration of a case against the chairman under Sections 466, 472 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, the FIA also recommends disciplinary proceedings against SECP Director Ali Azeem and Maheen Fatima, who heads the Internal Audit and Compliance Department.