ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan reserved decision pertaining to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family’s foreign assets and money laundering allegations last Friday, and is expected to announce its decision somewhere in the near future. Here is a timeline of how events unfolded, as PM Nawaz and his family’s fate hangs in the balance.
April 4, 2016: International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) publishes Mossack Fonseca (MF) documents in form of Panama Papers exposing tax evasion, fraud and evasion of international sanctions of world’s elite through off-shore accounts and shell companies including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family.
April 5, 2016: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif establishes a judicial committee to investigate the allegations, asking those leveling accusations against his family to go before this commission and record their statements. Nawaz also confirms none of the alleged corporations deemed theirs in the Panama Papers have anything to do with any of his family member.
April 22, 2016: PM Nawaz addresses the nation pertaining to the Panama Papers scandal, in which he states that he will write a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan to establish a commission to investigate accusations against him, and if proven guilty, will step down as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He also claimed that some elements want to destabilise the country via Panama Leaks.
April 26, 2016: Opposition rejects judicial commission set up by the government, and demands that terms of reference (ToRs) of any such commission should be drafted only after consultation with the opposition parties including Pakistan Tehreeke Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
May 16, 2016: PM Nawaz addresses the opposition in National Assembly to co-operate for joint ToRs for investigation, suggesting establishment of a parliamentary committee to finalise ToRs. Opposition leader, PPP’s Khurshid Shah, dismisses PM’s speech as “confusing”. Shah further adds that the PM failed to convincingly respond to the seven questions jointly prepared by the opposition.
September 30, 2016: After months of ifs and buts, PTI Chairman Imran Khan takes it to the streets through Raiwind March. The PTI chief, addressing to the party faithful says that “PTI will now go to Islamabad and paralyse government” adding that this will continue until the culprits present themselves for accountability and that justice is served.
November 1, 2016: Supreme Court of Pakistan decides to pursue a case related to PM Nawaz, after which PTI chairman decides to abandon the idea of locking down the nation’s capital and instead promises to organize a celebratory rally. “I am glad that the SC has finally directed Nawaz Sharif to present himself for accountability from day after tomorrow,” he says.
November 7, 2016: PML-N submitted Qatari prince’s letter to the Supreme Court with regards to Hassan and Hussain Nawaz’s London flats. The document claims that Mohammad Sharif, PM’s father had longstanding business relations with Prince Hamad’s father and had invested in real estate business of the Qatari family, and the London flats were purchased under the realm of the real estate business. The court was not convinced, however.
November 14, 2016: PTI submits evidence before the commission investigating the Panama case.
December 9, 2016: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali retires and postpones Panama case hearing until first week of January, delaying the case further, much to the dismay of the opposition, especially PTI.
January 6, 2017: PM Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz submits details of assets including those of five years of her income as SC resume hearing of the case.
January 27, 2017: PML-N submits yet another Qatari letter to the SC for the purpose of establishing London flat’s money trail. The earlier rhetoric was maintained, according to which PM’s father, Muhammad Sharif had named Hussain Nawaz as his property and business beneficiary.
February 23, 2017: The court is expected to issue a brief verdict on Panama case, instead it reserves the decision and new date is set to April 20, 2017.
April 20, 2017: The five-judge bench, including Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan announce their verdict on the longstanding Panama case. Two out of five judges give verdict in favour of PM Nawaz’s disqualification, while the other three demand further investigation, asking for formulation of Joint Investigation Team (JIT).
May 6, 2017: SC formally constitutes JIT which includes Director General Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Wajid Zia, Managing Director State Bank of Pakistan Ameer Aziz, Executive Director Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Bilal Rasool, Director General National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Irfan Naeem Manji, Director Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Brigadier (r) Nauman Saeed and Brigadier Kamran Khurshid.
May and June: PM Nawaz’s family members, including daughter Maryam, sons Hassan and Hussain and brother-in-law Ishaq Dar appear before the JIT multiple times on differing dates throughout the two months, recording their statements.
July 10, 2017: JIT submits its final investigational report to the SC, after which the SC announces to open a criminal case against Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Chairman Zafar Hijazi in order to find the culprit behind tampering with Sharif family’s business records. The court further demands transcripts of PML-N representatives’ speeches to examine them for despicable content.
July 17, 2017: A three-judge bench lead by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed conduct initial hearing after JIT submits its final report. The judges say that they are not bound to follow JIT’s findings. Moreover, PTI representatives urge for PM’s disqualification, whereas PM’s family submits its objections over JIT’s report to the SC. After hearing the arguments, the court is adjourned till the next day, and the same continues for the next couple of days.
July 21, 2017: The three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, including Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan reserve decision, that would eventually be announced somewhere in the near future.