Tuesday, 30 November 2021

PM’s children seek SC nod to respond to PTI allegations

ISLAMABAD: The children of Prime Mini­ster Nawaz Sharif have sought the Supreme Court’s permission to respond to other allegations levelled by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) if the latter widen the scope of their claims beyond questions over the ownership of the four properties in London. But even as a five-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, is set to resume hearing the Panamagate case today (Thursday), it appears that the court’s wish that the matter is disposed of quickly may not materialise. In a three-page application, Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz’s newly-engaged counsel Mohammad Akram Sheikh emphasised that the allegations levelled by the PTI in their petitions related to claims that Maryam Nawaz was the owner of Flat Nos. 16, 16A, 17 and 17A at Avenfield House in London’s Park Lane.

The PTI had also sought the disqualification of the prime minister and his son-in-law – retired Capt Mohammad Safdar – from the National Assembly, on the grounds that PM Sharif had not declared the properties allegedly owned by his daughter, who was purportedly mentioned as his dependant in his tax returns and the statement of assets and liabilities filed with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). This fresh application, submitted on behalf of the PM’s children, highlights that as respondents, they have already submitted concise as well as supplemental statements to refute the allegations levelled by the PTI. But as far as the additional documents submitted by the PTI were concerned, the application maintained they contained no substantiated, tangible, concrete and admissible proof in relation to the controversy at hand.

“The general allegations made and the documents appended with, are specifically and vehemently denied for being incorrect, erroneous, misconceived and inadmissible,” the application maintained. “In case the petitioner intends to rely on any documents appended with additional documents or to agitate matters during [Panamagate] proceedings, which are not related to the allegations/grounds other than the four London flats, the answering respondent reserves the right to submit appropriate replies to every document or allegation as well as raise objections to each document [if the petitioner chooses to rely on them],” the application said. Meanwhile, the ECP also submitted its reply, saying it had deferred hearing on four identical matters relating to the concealment of assets and disqualification of the prime minister until a decision on similar pleas pending before the Supreme Court.

The reply said PTI’s petitions had come up for hearing before the commission on Aug 17 and notices were issued to the respondents to clarify the legal and factual points raised in the petitions before the ECP on Sept 6. The respondents, however, moved applications before the commission challenging its jurisdiction and did not file any reply to the allegations raised in the reference. Subsequently, the ECP adjourned further proceedings for arguments on the question of jurisdiction, but later held that it would wait for the final outcome of the Supreme Court hearing on the Panamagate case. In addition, Advocate Tariq Asad, who was the first to highlight the Panama Papers leaks before the Supreme Court, moved another application on Wednesday, pleading that if the apex court finally decided to appoint a commission to investigate money laundering and tax evasion allegedly committed by the prime minister and his family members, the scope of the probe should be enlarged to include other prominent individuals and parliamentarians, such as Imran Khan, Jahangir Tareen, former president Pervez Musharraf and former interior minister Rehman Malik. Mr Asad claimed that only trying the ruling elite and not others would amount to discrimination.

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