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    Thursday, 15 June 2017

    There will be a bigger JIT next year,' PM warns opponents after appearing before Panama probe team

    Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday made his maiden appearance before a joint investigation team (JIT) probing Sharif family’s offshore properties in line with the apex court’s April 20 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

    Addressing the media after his appearance before the inquiry team, the PM said he has accounted for every penny today. “I have just presented my stance before the JIT,” he told reporters outside the Federal Judicial Academy.
    According to sources, PM Nawaz was asked the following questions by the JIT:
    1. Different positions he has taken with reference to London properties and the source of funding for the purchases
    2. His role in Hudaybia Paper Mills, and documents to show until when he was a part of the board of directors or managements of other family businesses
    3. His knowledge of the funds transferred through and into the accounts mentioned in Ishaq Dar’s affidavit
    4. The role he played in his sons’ businesses and whether or not he provided or received any financial help to or from them
    5. Sources of income
    6. His knowledge of the sale of Gulf Steel and an explanation of his statement before Parliament on the issue of the steel mill in Jeddah
    The premier upheld that all sources of his assets were already submitted to relevant authorities. “Today is a historic day for Pakistan’s judiciary. My whole family and I have presented ourselves for accountability.”
    “Is there any family in Pakistan that has appeared for accountability other than mine,” he asked. “My personal businesses have nothing to do with federal treasury. And no matter how many conspiracies my rivals are hatching, they will not be successful.”
    A confident premier added: “We are going to emerge successfully not only from this test of time but also in the next general elections with a more overwhelming majority and people’s supply
    ‘No new evidence’
    In his remarks on the Prime Minister’s talk after his appearance before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman said that apparently, no fresh evidence was presented to the team.
    “The only defence that the Sharifs had was the letter of the Qatari prince who has refused to come to Pakistan.” Imran said. “After his refusal, they [Sharifs] don’t have anything to prove how the money was transferred to London to buy flats there.
    “Nawaz Sharif created an impression during his talk that the whole thing is a conspiracy against him, which is shameful.” The only institution they seem to be accusing of a conspiracy is the military or the military and judiciary both. Imran reiterated that the Sharifs, for the last 30 years, have been fielding either their own ‘umpires’ or term them their enemies.
    Earlier, as he arrived to appear before the team amid tight security, the premier was accompanied by his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his Hussain Nawaz.
    Television footage showed a seemingly relaxed PM Nawaz clad in traditional shalwar kameez and waving at party workers before entering the building in Sector H-8/4.Police officials deployed outside the secretariat barred PML-N leaders Khawaja Asif and Ishaq Dar from entering the premises. Other political activists clashed with policemen and raised slogans against the authorities.Meanwhile, refusal of Qatari prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber al Thani to come to Pakistan and appear before the JIT has added to the ruling camp’s worries.

    The Qatari prince’s presumed letters were presented by the ruling family’s counsels in the apex court during the Panamagate case hearing to establish money trail over the London properties of the Sharifs.
    The prince has, however, conveyed his refusal for to appear before the inquiry panel. The ruling party has been trying to convince the prince to record his statement before the JIT through video link but chances of his appearance are slim. The JIT has, however, not summoned the Qatari royalty so far.
    The apex court agreed last year to investigate the Sharif family’s offshore wealth after the opposition threatened protests after the leaking of the “Panama Papers”.
    Documents leaked from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm appeared to show that PM Nawaz’s daughter and two sons owned offshore holding companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and used them to buy properties in London.
    The six-man panel, made up of members of civilian investigative agencies and military intelligence officers, are examining three generations of Sharif family wealth. The team has accused government departments of tampering with old records, but Dar on Wednesday rejected such allegations, adding that the team’s claims meant the process was becoming “suspicious”, media reported.
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    Item Reviewed: There will be a bigger JIT next year,' PM warns opponents after appearing before Panama probe team Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Abdul Sattar Qamar