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Top Story

June 16, 2017



PM visits Judicial Academy without protocol

Strict security arrangements made during PM’s visit to JIT

ISLAMABAD: In an unprecedented move, democratically-elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif personally appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) on Thursday without any protocol and recorded his statement in the context of the PanamaLeaks case, becoming the first serving chief executive of Pakistan who presented himself to any probe body.

The prime minister arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) that acts as a secretariat of the JIT without any protocol and was interrogated there by the probe body for almost three hours. Strict security arrangements were made on the occasion involving personnel of Police, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary. Anti-aircraft guns were installed on the buildings near the FJA with 2,668 security personnel from police, Rangers and Special Branch standing guard.

The personal security staff of the prime minister earlier visited the FJA in the morning and reviewed the security arrangements. However, later it was decided by the prime minister that he would not travel with his security protocol and would appear before the JIT as a common man. A special control room set up in the Interior Ministry was continuously reviewing the security arrangements as all the security apparatus was connected with wireless communication system.

The prime minister met his close aides, including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, former minister Pervaiz Rashid, Irfan Siddique and other senior advisers before his appearance at the JIT. Maryam Nawaz, daughter of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accompanied him to the car when he left the Prime Minister's House for the FJA at around 10:45am. When Nawaz Sharif came out of his car after entering the FJA, the workers of PML-N were thrilled to have a close glimpse of their leader. The premier waved his hand to the party workers who raised loud slogans like Mian Tere Janisar Beshumar Beshumar (Mian Nawaz Sharif your diehard supporters, innumerable). A group of lawyers also arrived at the FJA to express solidarity with Nawaz Sharif.

Joined by many workers of the PML-N, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali led the 'Zuhr' prayer on the green belt adjacent to the FJA. Federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Khawaja Asif and Abid Sher Ali, Dr Asif Kirmani and female parliamentarians including Tahira Aurangzeb remained present outside the FJA while fasting in the holy month of Ramazan. Khawaja Asif and Ishaq Dar also attempted to cross the security barriers outside the FJA; however, they were pushed back by the policemen.

A bullet-proof dais was first placed outside the FJA but later it was replaced by a wooden dais from where the prime minister talked to the media persons after his appearance before the JIT. Sources said the JIT raised 13 questions and sought answers from the prime minister who had brought enough documents with him aiming to prove that he has done nothing wrong while carrying out business in the past. The sources said the JIT also sought answers from the prime minister over the alleged contradiction in his statements -- one that was given to the court and other that was made on the floor of the National Assembly last year.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court has already rejected disqualification of the prime minister on the basis of these conflicting statements in the three to two-member decision of the five-member bench. The counsel of the prime minister in his arguments before the Supreme Court pointed out that there were no contradictions in his speeches and that he mentioned some points at a certain venue and did not mention some points at another venue.

"The prime minister also faced questions regarding how they sold the Gulf Steel Mills in 1974 in Dubai and then made investment in Qatar and later on transfer of money from Qatar to Jeddah and from Jeddah to London," the sources said.

The sources added that the JIT also asked from the prime minister about accumulation of assets of his children in their tender years and presentation of costly gifts from Hussain Nawaz to his father worth Rs510 million in 2011, Rs210 million in 2012 and another Rs129.8 million same year. They said the JIT also asked questions from the prime minister about Hudaibya Paper Mills in the light of the data provided by Securities and Exchange of Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the probe body.