Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s verdict in the high-profile Panamagate case as his family fears that the strong observations made by the five-judge bench may influence the Joint Investigation Team’s probe, a media report said on Tuesday. Sharif, 67, got a temporary reprieve last week from the apex court which said there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to remove him from office but ordered setting up of a joint team to investigate the graft allegations against his family.
The bench issued a landmark 540-page split judgement ordering setting up of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising officials from different agencies including those from the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence. The legal wizards of the Sharif family have expressed fears that strong observations might create prejudice in the investigation of the JIT, which the apex court ordered to further probe him and his two sons, ‘The Express Tribune’ reported.
A senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader told the paper that legal minds of the ruling party and the Sharif family’s legal team have started deliberations over whether to file a review petition or not against the April 20 judgement. He also said that the legal team had strong reservations over the observations made by every member of the larger bench against members of the Sharif family, particularly the prime minister.
“We fail to understand why the Supreme Court judges have given observations before the outcome of the JIT’s investigation,” he said. If the judges were saying that they could not examine evidence at this stage, why they had considered and given observations on it, the senior leader said, adding that the judgement should not be delivered on personal likes and dislikes.
A senior PML-N lawyer, who was initially part of the legal team, believes that the respondents must file a review petition, otherwise the JIT’s probe will be prejudiced. Counsel for the prime minister, Makhoom Ali Khan, who lives in Karachi, arrived in Islamabad yesterday to deliberate on whether a review petition should be launched.
Meanwhile, a senior leader of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf said that the party’s legal team had recommended the leadership not to file a review petition as they should only monitor the JIT’s probe so that 60 days time-line could not be extended. The high-profile Panama graft case is about alleged money laundering by Sharif in 1990s when he twice served as the Prime Minister to purchase assets in London. The assets surfaced when Panama papers last year showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Sharif’s children.