Islamabad July 10 (TNS): The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) — probing the prime minister and his family over the alleged money-laundering and tax evasion charges — will submit its final report to the Supreme Court’s Panama Papers case implementation bench on Monday amidst rising political temperature.
The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has announced not to accept the JIT report sans the cross-examination of Qatari Prince Hammad Bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, whose letters had been produced before the Supreme Court five-member bench hearing the Panama Papers case.
The JIT had summoned the Qatari prince to Pakistan to testify his letters, but he refused to show up stating that he did not accept the jurisdiction of Pakistani courts. Instead, he had invited the JIT members to visit his Palace in Doha to cross-examine him over the two letters. The JIT could not make it to Doha and wrapped up its findings sans the Qatari prince, inviting the ire of the ruling PML-N, whose four senior cabinet members came down hard on the probe team, accusing it of its biasedness and being tilted.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties especially the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has come out as an ardent supporter and in the defense of the JIT and the Supreme Court announcing that any misadventures by the ruling party will be countered tooth and nail. PTI chief Imran Khan has appealed to his party workers and the nation to come out to defend the JIT and the Supreme Court stating that the ruling party may repeat the history by attacking the apex court as it did in 1997.
The PML-N time and again raised objections to the JIT proceedings after Hussain Nawaz’s leaked picture surfaced from the Federal Judicial Academy investigation room amidst many PML-N leaders pointing the finger at some members of the probe team, who, according to the ruling party, hold antagonist views of the party. The JIT further embroiled in controversy after it transpired that the ISI was managing all its logistic support and even its fortnightly reports were composed by the premier intelligence agency.
Legal experts say that the JIT may seek further time from the Supreme Court to gather additional evidence in the Panama Papers case before framing any charge against the Sharif family. Some legal experts also say that the JIT report will hold no credence if it did not testify the Qatari prince, who is the key witness to the Sharif family’s foreign holdings and the joint business the two families jointly carried out in the 80s and the 90s.
The Supreme Court may grant time to the JIT to cast it net wide further, or rely on the so far gathered findings, to proceed against the Sharif family.
Legal experts also say that the immediate conviction of the premier was unlikely unless the JIT presents undisputed evidence and proofs regarding the PM Nawaz Sharif’s involvement in the money-laundering.