People wait with baited breath and every other Op-ed and articles are writing about the role that the Supreme Court Justices will play in the now infamous Panama case. It will become one of the country’s most important constitutional decisions that will determine transparency and accountability of politicians and the stability of democracy.
On their final hearing the Justices announced they would not give a short decision – but would rather read ‘each and every’ word before issuing a judgement. They wanted their decision to be ‘valid for twenty years’. The 5 member Justices have the weight of history and the ideals of democracy weighing heavy on their shoulders.
The cases, against the sources of the Prime Minister and his children’s wealth, were taken to court by Imran Khan, Chairman Tehreek-i-Insaf, Siraj-ul-haq, ameer Jamaat-i-Islami and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, leader of Awami National Party. The PTI case seeks the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan on grounds of misleading statements during his address to the nation on April 5 and one in National Assembly address on May 16, 2016.
A general consensus is being built, it will strengthen the power of the court to intervene for the protection and enforcement of basic rights of every citizen.
Generally, it is presumed by the legal community that since the Sharif family, did not deny or question the accusations made under the Panama leaks they can be presumed guilty or that this ‘amounts to admission’.
Athenticity of the evidence?
During the hearings, the court on numerous occasions voiced concerns over the ‘authenticity’ of the Panama Papers and the newspaper clippings. They termed the documents submitted by both sides “hearsay”, according to the esteemed Justice both the leaked documents and the Qatari letter, did not meet the exacting conditions to fulfill the Qanoon-i-Shahadat (Law of Evidence).
What happened in other countries?
However, elsewhere in the world, the leaked documents have started a series of investigations. Soon after the document came out, European Union formed a Committee of Inquiry for the investigation of money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, was forced to give his resignation after failing to clarify his links with a company in British Virgin Islands, Wintris Inc, which had shares in one of the Icelandic banks that collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis in Iceland.
Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, is facing continuous pressure after EU revealed, Konard Mizzi, his cabinet minister as “textbook case of money laundering.”
David Cameron, Ex-Prime Minister of Britain, faced embarrassment after it was discovered that his father did not pay UK taxes on the profit received from Blaimore Holdings Inc. He was forced to clarify whether his inheritance from his father had taxes paid on it or not.
According to Philip Hammond, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, 22 people were under investigation due to tax evasion and some high net-worth individuals were “under examination.”
The owners of the company Mossack Fonseca, the tax haven company in Panama have been arrested and charged for destroying evidence of bribery scandal and money laundering.
Frederik Obermaier, investigative reporter at the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung, the newspaper that released the millions of documents under the Panama leaks, has said that “To my knowledge, apart from Pakistan, the authenticity of the Panama Papers documents has not been seriously questioned in court in any country worldwide.”
He has shown surprise at the truculence shown in Pakistan to ascribe responsibility to anyone from the Panama case leaks. In January he tweeted details of Mariam Nawaz name and role in companies implicated in companies mentioned in the Panama leaks. He tweeted: