Maryam in focus as SC resumes Panamagate hearing

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Focus was on Maryam Nawaz’s finances and legal status in the Supreme Court today as hearing of the Panamagate case probing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family’s assets resumed.

The apex court asked three questions: How did the premier’s children create their companies? Is Maryam Nawaz dependent on someone? And did the prime minister tell the truth in his three speeches on Panamagate?

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) counsel Naeem Bokhari began his arguments by exploring Maryam Nawaz’s financial situation. He observed that the premier’s daughter had been gifted Rs50 million and Rs31.7m on two separate occasions by her father.

He also said that Maryam had not paid any utility bills.

The PTI’s lead counsel argued in court that Nawaz Sharif’s tax returns from 2011 showed that Maryam Nawaz was his dependent.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali raised a question about the addition of Rs196m in Maryam Nawaz’s wealth which she attributed to a BMW car gifted to her by her father.

“How could a second hand car raise that kind of money?” the CJP asked.

Justice Asif Saeed remarked that the PTI’s arguments pointed towards the possibility that Maryam Nawaz was a dependent, but did not shed any light on who she may be dependent on.

Naeem Bokhari concluded his arguments today. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s council Salman Aslam Butt will present his case tomorrow before giving way to Akram Sheikh, the lawyer representing Nawaz Sharif’s children.

During today’s hearing, Nawaz Sharif’s children submitted a petition in the apex court requesting daily hearings of the case.

“The issue is very critical and institutions are getting affected,” stated the petition, which was submitted through senior counsel Akram Sheikh who is representing Maryam Nawaz, Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz.

CJP Jamali said the court was keeping an open mind on the idea of forming a commission on Panamagate and would make one when it felt a need for it.

Justice Jamali was responding to Jamaat-i-Islami’s request of creating an inquiry commission with the mandate to investigate the matter.

On Dec 3, JI chief Sirajul Haq had submitted a fresh application with a request to constitute an inquiry commission. He had also requested that the court make a party in the case all the family members, including children, companies and business entities of those whose names had surfaced in the Panama Papers leaks.

As his lawyer was not present in court, Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rasheed, with the permission of the court, argued his own case. He observed that it was strange that the creation of the Sharif family’s mills coincided with the completion of a motorway.

The chief justice said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) do not operate effectively. He asked “If these institutions do not want to work, why don’t we shut them down?”

Hearing of the case will resume on Dec 13.