ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Awami Muslim League (AML) submitted their terms of references (ToRs) at the Supreme Court on Thursday for a judicial commission to probe corruption allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, stemming from revelations that his children owned offshore companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.
On the orders of the apex court, PM’s legal adviser Salman Safdar Butt also submitted his answers today; however, PM’s children – also the main party in the case – failed to submit their responses.
Adjourning the case hearing till November 7, the court ordered Maryam, Hussain, Hasan to submit their answers saying, “If the answers are submitted according to the law then the court will hold the charges confirmed.”
The court expressed its displeasure and asked for submission of responses by Monday so the case can proceed and denounced to give PM’s children a week’s time to submit their answers, upon the request of the government’s lawyer.
PM’s legal adviser later confirmed that Maryam, Hussain and Hasan were not in the country.
PM denies holding offshore companies
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his reply during the Panamagate scandal case hearing said he does not own any offshore company and business nor he owns any of the luxurious flats in London.
He urged in his reply that he was never involved in any tax avoidance and instead has always paid taxes to the governments as per the laws in Pakistan.
Prime Minister’s lawyer Salman Safdar Butt maintained in the court that Nawaz Sharif could not be disqualified as per Article-62 and 63 of the constitution of Pakistan.
According to the prime minister’s reply, his children, Maryam, Hussain and Hasan were independent and were even not being supported by him through any means.
SC proposes one-member commission
A five-member larger SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali hearing the Panamagate petitions on Thursday decided that a single-member commission would be formed to probe revelations made in the Panama Papers after reviewing all replies. The commission would be headed by an apex court judge and would hold powers equivalent to the apex court.
Hearing petitions in the case, seeking disqualification of the premier, the court said all parties must submit their ToRs to the commission, stressing the legal body would be independent and fair.
SC has already clarified that if no consensus was made on the ToRs between the government and PTI, it would come up with its terms of the commission.
The apex court on Tuesday had agreed to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s request to set up a judicial commission to probe Panamagate scandal.
Khan then backed down on his threat to paralyse Islamabad by bringing in a million protesters, defusing tensions after days of clashes between his supporters and the police.
An infamous high-profile scandal
Names of several Pakistanis including Nawaz Sharif’s children Maryam, Hussain, and Hasan surfaced in one of the world’s biggest ever data leaks through an online searchable database made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in April 2016, following which the prime minister had formed an inquiry commission to probe his family’s alleged links to offshore accounts.
Unfortunately, the federal government and the opposition could not agree on drafting joint ToRs.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) also failed to probe the case.
The PTI later had said to hold a sit-in in Islamabad on November 2 which was later changed into a ‘celebratory’ rally.