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GVS News Analysis |

The JIT’s investigation of the Prime Minister and his family is about to reach a crescendo and the nation is witnessing an increasingly frantic dance by all stakeholders to somehow secure their interests in this high stakes game of political chess.

The Panama situation is proving to be an exhausting affair to follow, to say the least, for both, citizens, and high-profile players involved. The situation has constantly been in flux, with pundits giving a spin to every minute detail, citizens have been left in the grip of uncertainty and confusion as all sorts of wild theories continue to fly around.

To fully describe the intricacies of this case one could potentially fill several hefty volumes but here at GVS, we have endeavored to give you a clear and cogent picture of the current state of affairs as to allow our readership to form their own opinions.

Read More: The summoning of the Sharif family by JIT: Shall we praise…

The Family

The reason behind the multiple summons to the PM’s sons is reported to be the occurrence of “contrasting” statements from different members of the Sharif family.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s son, Hassan Nawaz, arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) on Monday to face the six-member joint investigation team (JIT) probing money laundering allegations against the Sharif family.

This is Hassan’s third appearance before the probe team.

Meanwhile, Hussain Nawaz, Hassan’s older brother, has appeared before the JIT five times and is scheduled to appear once more on Tuesday.

As the JIT began its last round of interrogations, it also examined the prime minister’s cousin Tariq Shafi for the second time on Sunday.

Amongst the prime minister’s children, his daughter Maryam Nawaz is considered the most influential and is rumored to be next in line to take the mantle of PML-N leadership. She has been summoned before the JIT on Wednesday which raised a fresh wave of vehement protest from PML-N stalwarts. This will be her first appearance.

The reason behind multiple summonses to the PM’s sons is reported to be the occurrence of “contrasting” statements from different members of the Sharif family.

Read More: Pakistan’s Challenge: Investigating the King’s Coterie

The Lynchpin is summoned

Today, on Monday, this loyal and dependable (that pesky confession notwithstanding) pillar of the Sharif empire was called before the JIT. The nation’s finance minister underwent scrutiny by a judicial body of which two members are his direct subordinates (representatives of SECP and SBP).

Ishaq Dar, incumbent finance minister and longtime confidante of the Sharif family had previously provided a confessional statement in 2000 in exchange for immunity in the Hudaibya Paper Mills case (files of which have been reopened by the JIT). In it, he detailed the purported methods employed by the Sharif family to whisk their wealth abroad and launder money for which they cannot, reportedly, provide the source.

Since then a lot has changed.

The confession was dismissed as having no legal standing as it was supposedly taken under duress.

The investigation was quashed, Dar was forgiven (apparently) and his bonds with the Sharif family were reinforced through the marriage of his son to one of Nawaz Sharif’s other, less ambitious, daughter.

Today, on Monday, this loyal and dependable (that pesky confession notwithstanding) pillar of the Sharif empire was called before the JIT. The nation’s finance minister underwent scrutiny by a judicial body of which two members are his direct subordinates (representatives of SECP and SBP).

The contents of the meeting have not been made public but it seems that ghouls from the past, considered forever buried, have risen to haunt the illustrious clique of Raiwind.

Casualties

The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) collapsed today after experiencing a surge on Eid-ul-Fitr.

The benchmark plunged almost 4.02 per cent to touch the day’s low at 44,693 points during the trading session.

It was a one-way street, as the market’s open at 46,565 remained the day’s high.

The banking sector led activity at the bourse, with over 18 million shares traded by noon.

The KSE-100 index had recorded a moderate loss of 146.56 points or 0.31pc to close at 46,565 during the previous session.

Senior analyst Ahsan Mehanti attributed the prevailing negativity in the market to uncertainty over the outcome of the Panama JIT’s probe into the Sharif family.

“Investors in the capital market are fearing that it (the decision on Panama Papers leaks investigations) might be against the ruling regime,” he told reporters.

He was of the view that the uncertainty will prevail in the market until July 10, which is when the JIT is expected to submit its report before the Supreme Court.

Read More: PML-N leaders U-turn on JIT; Question ISI, MI involvement

The Case

Will the judges drag on this case? How long will it take for them to reach a decision? Will it be before the 2018 elections?

Ambiguity surrounds the current proceedings at the Supreme Court. Legal experts are not sure whether the three-member implementation bench will be the sole body presiding over the consideration of the JIT’s report or whether the two justices from the original five-member bench will also be pondering the JIT’s findings.

The JIT was formed after a majority of three from the five-member bench decided further investigations were required. The minority of two were of the view that the PM had lost his moral authority to rule and should be disqualified.

In any case, if one of the justices in the majority change their minds after considering the JIT’s report it would probably mean the PM’s disqualification.

Will the judges drag on this case? How long will it take for them to reach a decision? Will it be before the 2018 elections? These are all questions to which answers have been suggested but are still swamped in uncertainty.

Read More: SECP under scrutiny, Panama JIT approaching its climax.

SECP debacle

In her statement to the JIT, which was also repeated in front of the FIA team, Ms. Fatima claimed that the investigation into money laundering by Chaudhry Sugar Mills was discarded in March 2013, at the time of the elections.

The astounding revelation made by the JIT that the SECP tampered with official records to hinder investigations has left the government reeling, further devolving the ruling party’s stance.

The accusation of record-tampering was leveled against incumbent SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi by the JIT and it was alleged that he closed an inquiry of money laundering by Chaudhry Sugar Mills — owned by the Sharif family — with retroactive effect.

In its response to the JIT’s allegations, the SECP maintained that investigations against Chaudhry Sugar Mills were completed in 2013, before the incumbent government came to power.

However, a startling revelation was made by Maheen Fatima, current director of the Internal Audit and Compliance Department, to the JIT and the FIA team. She revealed that had investigations had been initiated against Chaudhry Sugar Mills in 2011, but the case was closed in 2016.

In her statement to the JIT, which was also repeated in front of the FIA team, Ms. Fatima claimed that the investigation into money laundering by Chaudhry Sugar Mills was discarded in March 2013, at the time of the elections.

This has caused a rift in the SECP since those related to the Enforcement Department maintain that the case was closed in 2016, while the official stance of the commission is that the case was closed in 2013.

The FIA probe is expected to file its findings with the JIT today (Monday)

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