The suspense continues

The suspense continues



Both the PML-N and PTI have welcomed the Panama judgment. The former was relieved to see the Prime Minister escaping the ignominy of being disqualified. The latter is happy that the PM and his family continue to remain under investigation. Indeed, Thursday's SC judgment sounded more like an adjournment of about 70 days, pending the result of the investigations by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) rather than a final verdict.

During the hearing of the case while the PTI had failed to prove that the London flats in question were purchased with tainted money, the PML-N too had failed to prove that they were not. This had perhaps left the SC bench no option but to constitute a JIT to trace the trail and the color of the money that was used in the purchase of the London properties.

What has already been established is that the Park Lane flats were bought between 1993 and 1996, but the companies behind them were not transferred to Mossack Fonseca until 2006.

It would be next to impossible for any investigating agency to produce documentary proof to debunk the claim of the family, if it were to actually claim that no tainted money was used in the purchase of the property because it would be well- nigh impossible to retrieve the tax returns of anyone dating back to a quarter of a century.

The next question is why was this property not shown in the tax documents of the PM since his return home in 2007 from his forced exile? This has an even simpler answer: by that time these flats had already been inherited by his children.

One cannot also rule out the possibility that it was the late Mian Sharif, the father of Sharif brothers who had actually bought the London flats in his own name in early 1990s and going by the family culture in this part of the world, these flats along with most of the properties owned by the Sharif family had perhaps remained in the name of the elder Sharif until his death which occurred during the time the family was in exile.

And even if the flats in question had been inherited by Nawaz after the distribution of the property on the death of his father, he most probably had distributed the London flats to his children before his return home. And again, since being in exile he was not filing his income tax returns for eight long years, the question why these properties were not shown in his tax returns during that period does not arise at all. And it is also possible that since by the time Mian Sharif had departed from this world, his grandchildren had come of age and were running their own businesses, one in Saudi Arabia and the other in London perhaps the grandfather had bequeathed the flats directly to his grandchildren.

Since the PM's sons do not hold any public office in Pakistan and since what they own today they had inherited from their elders while the family was in exile in Saudi Arabia they cannot be accused of breaking any law of the land for keeping these flats in the name of an offshore company in Panama.

And since the PM either never owned these flats in his name or even if he had inherited them after his father's death he had, most probably while still in exile, distributed them among his children he too cannot be accused of using tainted money to buy these flats either when his party ruled the Punjab or when he had enjoyed the Prime Ministerial powers twice in Islamabad in the 1990s or for not showing them in his tax returns that he had been filing since returning home in 2007.

So, perhaps all that the first family needs to do is to produce the legally authenticated document setting down the 'will' of the late Mian Sharif to get itself exonerated from the allegations being leveled against it. But perhaps no such document exists or perhaps not wishing to make public its real worth the family is reluctant to submit the document for scrutiny.