Pakistan SC resumes Panama Papers graft case hearing

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Pakistan Supreme Court resumed the hearing of the Panama Papers graft case
Pakistan Supreme Court resumed the hearing of the Panama Papers graft case

Islamabad : The Pakistan Supreme Court on Monday resumed the hearing of the Panama Papers graft case that will decide the future of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has challenged as "biased" and "going beyond mandate" a probe panel's report over his family assets.

A three-member apex bench, of Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Hassan, began hearing the high-profile case as it returned to the Supreme Court after nearly two months, Dawn newspaper reported.

The Panama Papers case Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed in light of the apex court's April 20 order to probe the Sharif family's money trail, submitted its 60-day investigation report to the court on July 10.

The JIT accused the family of being "untruthful" and "having assets beyond means". The report highlighted the failure of the Sharif family to provide a money trail for its London apartments. 

Sharif had denied any wrongdoing after the report also accused his children -- daughter Maryam Nawaz, and sons Hasan and Hussein Nawaz -- of submitting "falsified" documents. Maryam Nawaz was also accused of signing forged documents to obscure ownership of the two posh London flats, said reports.

In the objections filed before the court, the Sharif family and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar rejected the JIT report and argued that the team had exceeded its mandate. 

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 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."

Imran Khan, the leader of opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, said the Prime Minister would end up in jail and vowed protests if he was not ousted by the court.

"Either we will celebrate in Islamabad or otherwise we will hit the streets to save our democracy and to make sure we send this mafia to Adiyala jail," Khan told supporters.

Meanwhile, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudry said that their counsel, Naeem Bukhari, had pleaded with the Supreme Court to summon Sharif for cross-examination if need be, disqualify him from Parliament and send cases against him and his family to an accountability court, Geo News reported.

He was addressing the media after Bukhari wrapped up his arguments in front of the three-judge Panama case implementation bench.