ISLAMABAD: As probe by the joint investigation team (JIT) into Sharif family’s offshore assets enters the final stage, the curiosity regarding outcome of the process as well as fate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family is increasing with each passing day. A three-judge implementation bench is scheduled to examine JIT’s final report on July 10 (Monday).On several occasions during the course of Panama case hearings, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the Supreme Court bench, has remarked, “We are not going to follow the populace. We will go by law and book, only. We don’t care what a leader, people and media say … we will go by the law. Let the heaven befall, we will hold the tight rope of law and constitution.” It is believed that whatever the findings are, the Panama case, which has already been adjudicated for months, may require a couple of more months to dispose of as parties concerned may challenge the JIT’s findings in the court.Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) former president Syed Ali Zafar, while commenting over the likely findings of the JIT, said that all the discussions as to what was going to come out of JIT was mere ‘guesswork’. However, he opined that certain possibilities cannot be ruled out. He guesstimated that any solid reference regarding source of funds had not been found so far to determine as to whether Sharif family’s wealth had been acquired in a transparent manner. “If JIT in its findings observes that the money trail was nearly inconsistent then it will have horrible consequences for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,” he said.Zafar said that after going through the JIT findings, the top court may grant opportunity to the parties in the case to file their comments, adding that the implementation bench may also disqualify the PM for not speaking truth before Supreme Court. “The onus of proof is on the accused and if they do not provide money trail and JIT finds inconsistencies and discrepancies in the record, the top court on the basis of ‘inconclusive evidences’ may draw the conclusion that the corrupt practices had been done,” he said.Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice-Chairman Ahsan Bhoon maintained that the ball was in SC’s court now. He said the PBC stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the judiciary. Bhoon expected that the JIT, without being influenced by any pressure, would gather the evidences and place the same before top court, adding that the JIT was working as a nominee of the SC. If JIT observes that the money trail had not been established, it will have binding effect on SC’s decision in the case. Bhoon criticized the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders for targeting JIT, saying the JIT was working as nominee of the SC and targeting it was tantamount to maligning the apex court. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself should have taken notice of such statements. Immature ministers and advisors have, in fact, pushed the prime minister to the swamp,” he said.SCBA incumbent president Rasheed Rizvi said attempts by government to make the JIT controversial has affected the independence and credibility of the panel. “Sharif family, instead of creating hullabaloo over being summoned by JIT, should have challenged the April 20 verdict wherein questions regarding assets were posed by the SC bench,” Rizvi said. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has himself dragged his family members into the matter by stating that all assets were owned by his children,” he added. To a question as to whether the five-judge Panama case bench or the three-judge implementation bench will give final judgment on JIT’s findings, Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), viewed that under SC’s April 20 verdict it appeared that the case was not disposed of but being treated as part of the already heard case, pending adjudication before the larger bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa. Published in Daily Times, July 7th , 2017.