ISLAMABAD: Strict security measures are in place in and around the Supreme Court in light of the much-anticipated hearing of the Panama Papers case today.
Sources said around 700 policemen, along with Rangers personnel and officials of the local administration, have been deployed for the hearing.
The proceedings are expected to begin at 9:30am.
The Panama case Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed in light of the apex court’s April 20 judgment to probe the Sharif family’s money trail, submitted its 60-day investigation report to the court on July 10.
The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments and claimed the prime minister and his children own assets beyond their known sources of income.
Following the report’s submission, the special bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, issued notices to all parties to submit their responses.
Prior to the proceedings, sources said the Sharif family has submitted its objections to the apex court. The response states that the Sharif family has rejected the report as the JIT worked beyond its mandate and pleaded that the report by nullified.
Strict security measures were also seen around the Federal Judicial Academy, that served as the JIT secretariat, which led credence to reports that the six JIT members could also be attending today’s hearing.
Informally beginning the day’s events, Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid — one of the petitioners in the original Panama Papers case — addressed the media saying the entire nation stands behind the apex court. “I’ll first see what the court says before submitting another petition to disqualify Nawaz Sharif,” he said.
Following Rashid, Pakistan Muslim League-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain spoke to the media. He said the Supreme Court is doing what the Parliament should have done.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi also addressed the media after Hussain. He said PTI is among other opposition parties that are demanding the resignation of the prime minister. “The government’s strategy since day one has been to delay the proceedings,” he said while answering a question.
Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, one of the petitioners in the case, said there is no hidden agenda here, the nation only wants a corruption-free country. “Nawaz Sharif has to go now, there is no other way. We want no one in Parliament who does not adhere to articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution,” he said.
The JI chief said they are hopeful that after this case, rule of law will be equal for all and others named in the Panama Leaks will be brought to book as well.
State minister Abid Sher Ali claimed the JIT has concoctions, not facts-based evidence. He criticised Sheikh Rashid’s political career, highlighting his role with as Nawaz Sharif’s aide before the Pervez Musharraf government.
“God willing the apex court will decide the case on merit and not on Imran Khan’s wishes,” he said, adding that despite whatever happened “we respect the honourable judges”.
July 10 hearing
At the last hearing, the bench also sought from the government transcripts of speeches made by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Talal Chaudhry, Prime Minister’s Political Secretary Asif Kirmani and Railways Minister Saad Rafique. Sources said those transcripts have been submitted to the apex court.
The special bench had also issued contempt of court notices to the editor, publisher and a reporter of The News directing them to submit their response in seven days.
Moreover, the bench directed the JIT head Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Additional Director Wajid Zia to publicly reveal the name of the person who leaked the interrogation picture of the premier’s son, Hussain Nawaz. On June 3, a picture of Hussain appearing before the JIT on May 28 was leaked to the media. In response, the JIT informed the court that it had taken action against the responsible official within 24 hours of the leak and sent him back to his parent department where action was taken against him.
The identity of the official has still not been made public.
Regarding Hussain’s plea to form a commission to probe his picture leak, the court, on July 10, left the matter to the government.