Nawaz sharif
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Most Pakistani papers have failed to analyze why the disclosure by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday, 23 Jan 2017, can be extremely damaging to Prime Minister Sharif’s family. Most papers have merely reported what Suddeutsche Zeitung or investigative journalist, Frederik Obermaier, had tweeted.

Maryam Nawaz named in Panama Papers, German Newspaper reaffirms, Express Tribune

First BBC and now Süddeutsche Zeitung

Since Süddeutsche Zeitung was the first news outlet, in the world, to receive the 11.5 million hacked files from Mossack Fonesca, the law firm, that had maintained the secret agreements of offshore accounts, of rich and famous, therefore its taking a position, through these tweets, has hit Pakistan and Pakistani diasporas across the world like a bombshell.

Many PMLN supporters have thus argued that PTI leader Jehangir Khan Tareen, business tycoon contemptuously referred to as Imran Khan’s ATM, is buying international journalists – first BBC and now Süddeutsche Zeitung – to influence the case in Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Many PMLN supporters have thus argued that PTI leader Jehangir Khan Tareen, business tycoon contemptuously referred to as Imran Khan’s ATM, is buying international journalists – first BBC and now Süddeutsche Zeitung – to influence the case in Supreme Court of Pakistan. Responding to these kinds of allegations, German investigative journalist, with Zeitung, member of the ICIJ and co-author of the book, Panama Papers, tweeted:

 


Most Pakistani papers, for reasons unknown, have somehow given details in such a skimpy manner, or published the tweeted documents without necessary professional effort that readers, irrespective of their political affiliations, fail to connect the dots and thus miss their significance to what is being debated or claimed in Pakistan – inside the court and on media. For instance this Dawn story:

German Daily highlights Maryam’s Connection to Panama Papers, Dawn

PMLN supporters therefore claim that German paper’s tweets – like the BBC before this – don’t add anything new to the story and don’t materially change any facts known on ground.

Passport copies of Maryam Safdar (Daughter of PM Nawaz Sharif) are given prominently. But passport shows issue dates in 2008. And Sharif family have already taken the position in Supreme court and media that these off-shore companies, Nescol and Nielson were acquired by the family in 2006, apparently from the Qatari prince. Maryam Sharif also does not deny that at some point, after 2006, she became the part owner of these offshore companies. PMLN

Maryam Sharif also does not deny that at some point, after 2006, she became the part owner of these offshore companies. PMLN supporters therefore claim that German paper’s tweets – like the BBC before this – don’t add anything new to the story and don’t materially change any facts known on ground. So one wonders why Süddeutsche Zeitung has taken a position by tweeting these documents if they don’t change anything materially.

 


However one paper, Karachi based Business Recorder, less popular with the lay readership, but with a specialized interest in financial matters has taken pains to enlarge and publish the documents clearly. (screen shots from Business Recorder)

 

The significance of ‘Personal Information Form’ of “Minerva Financial Services Limited” signed in 2011, is damaging only once its read along with the letter issued by the Assistant Manager of the “Samba Financial Group” Tahlia Ladies Branch on Dec 3, 2005 to Minerva Financial Services to support their client, Maryam Nawaz.

The significance of ‘Personal Information Form’ of “Minerva Financial Services Limited” signed in 2011, is damaging only once its read along with the letter issued by the Assistant Manager of the “Samba Financial Group” Tahlia Ladies Branch on Dec 3, 2005 to Minerva Financial Services to support their client, Maryam Nawaz. Because the existence of this letter proves that Maryam Safdar and her family were linked with Minerva Financial Services even in 2005. Minerva, as the whole world now knows, is the holding company that controlled the Off-shore companies, Nescol and Nielson, that in turn held the London flats – the center of all this political and legal debate.

Whereas the copy of Passport and Personal Information Form for Minerva Financial Services both have dates later than 2006, its the letter of Samba Financial Services that was issued in Dec 2005 and proves that Sharif Family was linked with Minerva even in 2005.

This creates serious complications for the Sharif family because after the BBC story the family took refuge in its position that while London Avonfield flats have been in continuous possession of Nescol and Nielson, but these Off-shore Companies were acquired by Hussain Nawaz in 2006. This is the claim which is apparently being supported by an affidavit referred to as the “Qatari Letter”.

Apparently Sharif family had already claimed, several weeks ago, that this letter – of Samba Financial Services of Dec 2005 – is a fabrication. But its affirmation by the German paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, in unambiguous terms, especially coming after the BBC story, is very very problematic for the Sharif family.

Letter from Samba Financial Services

But the existence of Samba Financial Services letter issued on behalf of its client, Maryam Safdar, then living at Saroor palace then pokes serious holes in the whole position of Sharif family.

Apparently Sharif family had already claimed, several weeks ago, that this letter – of Samba Financial Services of Dec 2005 – is a fabrication. But its affirmation by the German paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, in unambiguous terms, especially coming after the BBC story, is very very problematic for the Sharif family.

 

Immunity to PM Nawaz Sharif

Sharif family is already fighting a purely legal case on technicalities. All family members are being defended by separate lawyers who have broken down the case into different sections and departments and are trying to use different aspects of law to raise doubts.

For instance Makhdoom Ali Khan, a very expensive constitutional expert from Karachi, is not talking about the facts of Panama case but he is arguing that constitution of Pakistan guarantees immunity to PM Nawaz Sharif; so the veracity of his statements on the floor of the national assembly or in a televised address to the nation on the issue of Panama leaks cannot be scrutinized in the court.

Other lawyers are trying to prove that children of PM Nawaz Sharif were adults when they acquired these properties and were not dependent on PM Nawaz Sharif, so PM is not responsible for their actions.

Given PM Sharif’s strong and firm hold on all national institutions including army, and punjab’s powerful bureaucracy, and unquestioned support from Washington and other key international governments and financial institutions like IMF and World Bank, no one realistically expects that courts within Pakistan can make a decision that will hurt his position. But politically, Pakistan is totally torn between the truth as the public and media believe and the truth that has to be certified by the courts.

Ownership of London flats

What aware citizenry finds difficult to believe and what Sharif family and lawyers cannot explain is that family members have been living in these London flats from 1993 onwards, political meetings and press briefings have taken place there, these flats were reported by FIA enquiry (Pakistani Police agency equivalent to FBI in the US) and national and international press extensively accused Sharif family of corruption of owning these expensive London flats; these flats were cited by the federal government in Zafar Ali Shah case in 2000-2001 and got attached in decisions of London courts on the request of Al-Tawfik Group in its case against Sharif family company, Hudaibya, in 1999.

So one naturally fails to understand that how come country’s top political family ends up buying a property in 2006 which was blamed on it throughout 1990’s as symbols or proofs of its corruption and abuse of political office. While courts and legal processes have their limitations but this case is severely widening the gulf between Pakistani public and national institutions.

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