In an unprecedented development, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before a becoming a Supreme Court-appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT) team probing the Panamagate graft case on Thursday. Sharif becomes Pakistan’s first sitting Prime Minister ever to depose before such panel.
“The day that creates history & sets a much required & welcome precedent for others to emulate,” Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz tweeted along with pictures of the PML-N leader and his top aides just before leaving for the JIT sums the prevailing political scenario in the country.
The JIT chief Wajid Zia had summoned the prime minister to appear before the probe team on June 15 with all documents relevant to the case.
The summons was issued to Sharif, after he returned last Saturday from Kazakhstan where he had attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit.
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.
Pakistan has been plagued by corruption for decades, with politicians often accusing rivals of graft.
The Supreme Court has given the panel two months to investigate the family and then deliver its findings.
The Joint Investigation Team had questioned Sharif’s sons — Hussain and Hasan — last month over the family’s alleged improper business dealings.
His eldest son Hussain was questioned five times while Hasan, the younger son, was summoned twice.
The court last year took up the case and issued a split decision over allegations of money laundering when Sharif was prime minister in 1990s.
It is for the first time that a sitting Prime Minister is appearing before a high-level probe team traditionally constituted to investigate high-profile criminal cases.
The JIT probing the offshore holdings of Prime Minister Sharif and his children has also summoned his younger brother and Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, to appear before it on June 17.