Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, appeared before the Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Sunday. Hussain Nawaz had been summoned before the JIT on 24 hour notice for questioning over his family’s financial dealings.
At 11 am, Hussain Nawaz was received at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA), headquarters of the JIT, by PML-N leaders Tariq Fazl Chaudhry, Daniyal Aziz, Hanif Abbasi, Islamabad Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz and few other party workers who had reached the venue before him and had organized the reception.
Members of the JIT refused to allow Mr. Nawaz’s counsel to support him during the proceedings and forced the lawyer to leave.
Before entering the FJA, Hussain had a brief interaction with the media gathered outside of the venue, ignoring multiple questions from reporters he complained to those assembled that he was called on very short notice.
“Neither have I been given any questionnaire nor informed about the modus operandi of the investigations,” Hussain told reporters. He went on to state that he would inform the media if his lawyer was not allowed inside we would inform the media.
After this, He proceeded into the JIT headquarters with his legal counsel Saad Hashmi.
However, the members of the JIT refused to allow Mr. Nawaz’s counsel to support him during the proceedings and forced the lawyer to leave. Hussain was informed by the JIT that he was not allowed to be accompanied by anyone during the proceedings, and if he wished, he could as the permission of the Supreme Court. 30 minutes were wasted on this issue.
During the proceedings Hussain Nawaz argued that he required more time to prepare for the JIT’s questioning. The salient points of his argument were: He had not been given a questionnaire by the JIT before the summons were issued; He had been summoned on an inappropriately short notice hence did not have adequate time to prepare; lastly, he had filed an application to the Supreme Court challenging the impartiality of 2 of the 6 JIT members.
Hussain Nawaz had filed an application to the Supreme Court which asked for the recusal of 2 members of the JIT. The members are Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Ahmer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan.
Despite these protestations, Hussain Nawaz was grilled for an hour by the JIT. He was asked about the reason behind his continued change in stance regarding the ownership of flats and the multiple sources of income. There are several public television interviews in which the premier’s children give contradictory accounts of their family’s financial holdings.
Last week, Hussain Nawaz had filed an application to the Supreme Court which asked for the recusal of 2 members of the JIT. The members are Bilal Rasool of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Ahmer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan.
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Hussain Nawaz alleges that Bilal Rasool is the nephew of Mian Muhammad Azhar, who is a supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and hence is prejudiced against the Sharif family.
With regards to Ahmer Aziz, Nawaz’s application points to his close relationship with the former president and arch nemesis of the Sharif family, Gen (retd.) Pervez Musharraf.
The petition is to be heard by the Supreme Court on Monday, 29th May.
PTI chief Imran Khan remarked that the Sharif family’s hesitancy in appearing before the court was predictable.
“Not surprising to hear Hussain Sharif reluctant to appear before JIT. His father Nawaz Sharif could not play cricket without his own umpires.”
PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry expressed reservations over the way Hussain Nawaz appeared before the JIT, stating “he should be treated as an ordinary accused”.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb indicated that appearance of the son of an elected prime minister before the Joint Investigation Team had substantiated the PML-N’s respect for the judiciary.
Chaudhry said the presence of PML-N leaders, including a federal minister and mayor of Islamabad inside the judicial academy, was inappropriate.
“The PM and his sons should be treated as ordinary accused,” he said while appreciating the decision of the JIT to question President National Bank of Pakistan Saeed Ahmad. Ahmad was a central character in the Hudabiya Paper Mills scam.
Chaudhry said there was no logical reason why PML-N had been questioning the formation of the JIT, saying that PTI had no objection to it. He said that the PM would soon appear before the JIT as an ordinary accused and it was only because of the long struggle of PTI to hold Nawaz Sharif accountable.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb indicated that appearance of the son of an elected prime minister before the Joint Investigation Team had substantiated the PML-N’s respect for the judiciary. “The PML-N holds constitutional institutions of the country in high esteem” she stated.
She further added that Hussain Nawaz could have avoided the JIT notice but he appeared before it even though he has expressed reservations over two members of the JIT in his petition filed in the apex court.