Panama probe: A quake that jolts Pakistan’s Sharifs
Panama Papers leak has thrown Pakistan’s powerful Sharif family into an existential crisis, particularly after judicial investigators ‘discovered’ in a damning report that the ruling dynasty accumulated wealth beyond their known sources of income. What ensued next was barrage of clarion calls for accountability.
The clamours for action against the ruling family intensified after the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court to investigate corruption allegations that surfaced following the Panama Papers leak, after two months gave its finding to the court declaring that Sharif family accumulated wealth far above its earnings and they prepared falsified documents to mask the truth.
The JIT had a demanding task at hand to investigate the allegations. Let’s take a look into their chaotic 60 days of probe and twist and turns that came along the way.
JIT formed on order of the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on April 20 announced formation of the joint investigation team in the anxiously-awaited verdict of the Panama Papers case that will probe offshore properties of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa announced the verdict. The JIT was tasked with deciding the matter in a stipulated period of 60 days.
It comprises officials of National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), State Bank of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) and will be led by a director-general level FIA officer.
The final 540-page verdict was split 3-2 among the bench with two dissenting notes in the judgment by Justice Khosa and Justice Gulzar. The two judges ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif, whereas the other three were in favour of constituting the JIT.
"Army will play its due role"
The top Army brass resolved at a Corps Commanders' Conference at General Headquarters on April 22 that the military would play its 'due role' as part of the Supreme Court-ordered Joint Investigation Team (JIT) which will probe Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family's business dealings abroad.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement said the forum had discussed the apex court's Panamagate verdict with special reference to the JIT.
"The forum pledged that the institution, through its members in the JIT, shall play its due role in a legal and transparent manner, fulfilling [the] confidence reposed [in the military] by the apex court," the ISPR said.
SC forms special bench to implement its judgment
The Supreme Court on May 2 announced a three-judge bench to implement its judgement in the Panama Papers case.
The bench consisted of Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan - the same judges who handed down the majority judgement in the Panama Papers case.
Birth of the JIT
The three-member bench of the Supreme Court overseeing the implementation of the apex court's verdict in the Panama papers case on Friday finalised the six members of a joint investigation team (JIT) that is to probe the prime minister and his sons' business dealings abroad.
The members were: Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director General Wajid Zia who headed the JIT. Other members were: Amer Aziz (SBP),SECP Executive Director Bilal Rasool. National Accountability Bureau Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, Inter-Services Intelligence Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed,Military Intelligence official Brig Kamran Khurshid.
PM’s cousin Tariq Shafi appears before JIT
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's cousin, Tariq Shafi, on May 15 made first appearance before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Sharif family. He was reportedly questioned about Sharifs business ventures.
First progress report of the JIT lands in SC
The JIT presented its first progress report on May 22 to the Supreme Court regarding implementation of the Panama case verdict and the court expressed its satisfaction with the progress of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the case.
Hussain Nawaz’s distrust on two JIT members
The SC received applications of Hussain Nawaz Sharif, the elder son of the prime minister, expressing reservations over two members of the JIT, namely Bilal Rasool and Amer Aziz.
Hussain alleged that one of them is a close friend of former president General Pervez Musharraf and was very active when a high treason case was being heard against Musharraf by a special court.
He claimed that the other one is said to be a relative of Punjab former governor Mian Azhar – a founding member of the PML-Q – and is currently aligned with the PTI.
The probe team summons Hussain Nawaz
PM’s son Hussain Nawaz appeared before the JIT and he was reportedly questioned for 90 minutes in his first appearance.
PM’s son reservations regarding JIT members rejected
A three-member special bench of the Supreme Court on May 29 dismissed the reservations raised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hussain Nawaz, regarding two members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the Panama Papers case as per the apex court’s instructions.
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who headed the three-judge bench, dismissed the accusation and ordered the JIT to continue with its proceedings and operate within its jurisdiction.
Hussain Nawaz makes second appearance before JIT
Hussain Nawaz made it to the Judicial Academy in Islamabad to appear in front of Joint Investigation (JIT) for second hearing on May 30.
JIT called him for Panama probe again as he did not provide relevant documents and answers during the first hearing.
NBP President and the ambulance fiasco
President National Bank of Pakistan, Saeed Ahmad, also reached Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) on May 30 to record his statement before the JIT. Later, his condition was deteriorated and ambulance was called to take him to hospital.
Nehal Hashmi unleashes verbal attack on SC, JIT
PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi hogged the limelight after a video surfaced on May 31 showing him lashing out at "those investigating" Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's family.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar also took suo motu notice of Hashmi's remarks and summoned him in person on Thursday to appear before the bench implementing its Panama Papers verdict, media reports said.
This led to resignation of Hashmi from his Senate seat.
Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Zafar Hijazi on May 31 wrote a letter to Registrar Supreme Court Arbab Muhammad Arif and discussed the issue of “WhatsApp” call and the JIT.
The letter gives details of how by using iPhone application the SECP chairman was conveyed, “the directions are that the name of Mr. Bilal Rasool should be included in the new panel."
The letter reveals that initially the Registrar SC spoke to the chairman SECP from his official number on the issue of JIT constitution but before concluding told the chairman that he wants to immediately talk to the latter using WhatsApp.
PM’s younger son appears before JIT
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's younger son, Hassan Nawaz, on June 2 made his first appearance before the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted by the Supreme Court to probe the Panama Papers case.
A day earlier, his elder brother, Hussain Nawaz, had appeared before the JIT for the third time in five days to defend the money trail of the Sharifs' London properties.
Hussain Nawaz’s photo leaked
A leaked photo that shows Prime Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz sitting in the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) interrogation room went viral on the social media.
The photo that apparently dates back to May 28 shows Hussain Nawaz sitting on a chair undergoing an interrogation by JIT that includes panel of officers of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), MI, SBP, SECP and NAB.
JIT submits second interim report to Supreme Court
The Joint Investigation Team probing the prime minister’s family’s global financial dealings submitted its second interim report to the Supreme Court on June 7 and the court expressed satisfaction with the progress of the probe team.
Hassan Nawaz second appearance
After changing in schedule, Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf’s younger son Hassan Nawaz on June 8 appeared before the joint investigation team.
Talking to media while leaving the judicial academy after second appearance, Hussain Nawaz said: “However, I decided to face the JIT and respond to all of their questions. I am confident that the investigation will prove our stance; that we have not done anything illegal,”
Hussain Nawaz comes to face JIT, again
Hussain Nawaz appeared before the JIT for the fifth time on June 9.
JIT tells SC of ‘hurdles in probe’
The six-member joint investigation team (JIT) on June 10 told the Supreme Court that it was facing a number of impediments and problems in its probe into money-laundering allegations against Sharifs stemming from the Panama Papers.
But the JIT head Wajid Zia did not explain the nature of the obstructions, nor did a three-judge Supreme Court implementation bench ask what was bothering the team.
Hussain Nawaz Photo Leak and the JIT reply
Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed to probe Panama Leaks case, on June 12 submitted a reply over leaked picture of Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s son Hussain Nawaz in Supreme Court (SC).
During the hearing, Justice Ejaz Afzal asked the Attorney General to thoroughly review the reply submitted by the team in order to launch investigation against the one who took the photo and then leaked it.
JIT blames govt departments for hampering probe
The probe team on June 13 blamed a number of government institutions for “creating impediments in the collection of evidence” in connection with the Panama Papers probe.
In its report before a three-judge Supreme Court bench, the JIT had alleged that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the law ministry and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) were creating obstructions in handing over records, and that they were guilty of forgery and tampering with relevant documents.
PM faces JIT
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court to probe the Panama Papers case on June 15. He was ostensibly grilled for three hours.
Speaking to media outside the JIT secretariat, he said: “"I have put myself and my family up for trial and provided the details of financial transactions made even before my own birth.”
JIT grills Shahbaz Sharif
After PM’s grilling by the JIT, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif on June 17 also turned up before the investigation team and presented his version.
Third progress report of JIT submitted to SC
The Joint Investigation Team formed by the Supreme Court to investigate the Panama Papers issue on Thursday submitted its third progress report on June 22 to the three-member special bench implementing the apex court’s verdict on the matter.
PM’s son-in-law records statement
Retired Captain Safdar, the son-in-law of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on June 24, arrived at the Judicial Academy to record his statement before Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to investigate Sharif family's business dealings abroad.
Ishaq Dar turns up before investigators
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar arrived at Federal Judicial Academy on July 3 before the investigators probing the corruption charges anchored in Panama Papers and trace the money trail of London flats and offshore companies owned by Sharif family.
Enters Maryam Nawaz
Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's daughter, appeared on July 5 for the first time before the Supreme Court-sanctioned investigation team probing her family's business dealings abroad.
Later speaking to media, she aggressively defended her family businesses and vowed such tactics to pressurize the Sharifs won’t yield any result intended by their detractors.
‘Habibi, come to our palace’ Qatar Prince to JIT
Qatar Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani on July 8 sent another letter asking the JIT to record his statement at his palace before submitting its final report to the Supreme Court.
Sharif family submits documents to SC
Sharif family on July 8 submitted vital documents to the JIT in their defence, to back their claims that their offshore businesses were not illegitimate.
JIT ‘drops the bomb’ with final report to court
The JIT on July 10 submitted its fourth and final report to the Supreme Court today and it recommended the apex court to file reference against the prime minister, his two sons and daughter Maryam Nawaz under the National Accountability Ordinance.