Panama papers: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif appears before JIT panel, warns opponents of wider probe

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. REUTERS/File Related News

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared at Islamabad’s Judicial Academy before a Joint Investigation Team which is probing the Panamagate graft case on Thursday. His appearance before the Supreme Court-appointed team is an unprecedented development that will make him the first sitting premier to depose before such a panel.

Speaking with the reporters outside the Federal Judicial Academy Sharif said: “My financial documents are already available with all relevant institutions including the Supreme Court, however, today I have submitted them to the JIT as well. It should be noted that these allegations have nothing to do with my tenure as the prime minister and are not charges of corruption. They are charges against me and my family on a personal level.”

It a veiled warning to his opponents, Sharif said that the ambit of the JIT probe will cover more people next year. “I have put myself and my family up for trial and provided the details of financial transactions made even before my own birth. My opponents have levied charges of corruption against me, however, neither in the past, nor in the present, have any charges of corruption been proved against me and my family.

“In a few days even the JIT report will come forward along with the court’s decision. However, people should not forget that there will also be a larger JIT next year, comprising 200 million people, and they will decide who has worked for the betterment of the country,” in an apparent warning to his opponents about the next General Election,” he said.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) chief Wajid Zia had summoned the prime minister to appear before the six-member probe team today with all documents relevant to the case. Ahead of his deposition before the JIT, Sharif consulted with his close aides and family members in the morning. It is expected that finance minister Ishaq Dar will accompany him to the deposition.

Sharif has already barred his party activists from join him or receiving him at the Judicial Academy in Islamabad where he would be questioned.

In its judgement of April 20 in the Panama Papers case, the Supreme Court had constituted a JIT and empowered it to summon the prime minister, his sons and any other person necessary, to investigate allegations of money-laundering, through which the four apartments in London’s posh Park Lane area were purchased. Sharif has denied any wrongdoing. The Joint Investigation Team had questioned Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hasan — last month over the family’s alleged improper business dealings.

The Indian Express, along with several other news organisations across the globe, released files in the Panama Papers. The biggest till date, the Panama Papers has seen the leak of over 11 million documents of the law firm, which features over 500 Indians linked to offshore firms. The 8-month investigation by a team of The Indian Express led by Ritu Sarin, Executive Editor (News & Investigations).

(with inputs from PTI)

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