Islamabad, Jul 17 (PTI) Embattled Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today rejected as “farce” a probe panel’s damning report that recommended filing of a corruption case against him and his family as the Supreme Court resumed the hearing of the high-voltage Panamagate graft case.
A six-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set up by the Supreme Court to investigate charges of money laundering against 67-year-old Sharif and his family had submitted the report on July 10 to the court, which could cost him his job.
“The entire investigation was a farce and an eyewash and was undertaken with a predisposed mind to malign and implicate the respondents in some wrongdoing or the other,” according to the objection filed by the Sharif family.
Khawja Harris on behalf of Sharif and his family filed a response to the JIT report, rejecting its findings and accusing it of bias and violation of the original mandate.
“The JIT report is not only against the law but also the constitution of the country and its finding are, therefore, of not legal value,” he said.
But the JIT report is turning into a major challenge to Sharif. Opposition parties accuse his family of using their political influence to amass wealth by unlawful means and are demanding his resignation.
So far Sharif has refused to quit, calling the investigators’ report a compilation of “allegations and assumptions”. His decision to stay in power was endorsed by the federal cabinet last week.
Sharif has all along denied any wrongdoing.
During today’s hearing, his lawyer also objected to the documents obtained from the foreign countries, which he said was against laws of the country.
Harris asked the court to provide the volume 10 of the report which was kept confidential on JIT’s request.
He also urged the court to reject the JIT report.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on his behalf separately submitted objections over the JIT report in the Supreme Court registrar’s office.
Earlier, Naeem Bokhari representing Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in his arguments appreciated the JIT and asked the court to implement the report and disqualify the Prime Minister.
Later, Fawad Chaurdry of PTI told the media that Sharif has lost moral and political grounds to continue as prime minister.
“He (Sharif) would not only be disqualified but also go to jail,” he said.
Minister of state for information Mariam Aurangzeb said the government would accept the decision of the court.
The court adjourned hearing till tomorrow.
Major opposition political parties have asked Sharif to step down and stay away from power until his name was cleared.
Prior to the hearing, opposition leaders, including Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid, arrived at the apex court and spoke to the media, reiterating their demand for Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation.
“Nawaz Sharif does not hold ‘high moral ground’ after the JIT report, which is why he should step down,” Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Dr Farooq Sattar said.
“PML-N has to decide what advice they will give to their leader, keeping in mind the interests of the country.” But Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz party has supported him to contest the report in the court.
The six-member JIT was set up in May by the Supreme Court with the mandate to probe the Sharif family for allegedly failing to provide the trail of money used to buy properties in London in 1990s.
Last year, the Panama Papers revealed that three of Prime Minister Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement. The assets in question include four expensive flats in Park Lane, London.
The top court took up the case in October last year on petitions filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League and Jamaat-e-Islami and reserved the verdict in February after conducting hearings on a daily basis.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.