ISLAMABAD: The top poll supervisory body has issued notices to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his close relatives to respond to a slew of references seeking their disqualification from legislatures for allegedly concealing their assets.
The Election Commission of Pakistan directed Premier Nawaz, his younger brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Shahbaz’s son Hamza, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and the premier’s son-in-law Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar to submit their replies on September 6.
A full bench of the ECP – headed by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retired) Sardar Raza Khan – took up identical petitions filed by the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami Muslim League, Pakistan Awami Tehreek and an individual petitioner, Prof Waheen Kamal.
The petitions were filed after the Panama Papers revealed on April 3 that three scions of the Sharif family were among hundreds of world politicians, businessmen, showbiz celebrities and sports stars who had secreted their money in international tax havens.
The Awami National Party filed a separate reference against PTI Senator Liaqat Khan Tarakai and his son for allegedly not disclosing assets while submitting his nomination papers.
When the ECP took up the matter on Wednesday, lawyers representing all the petitioners presented their arguments and stated that the prime minister and his family were holding offshore companies but concealed their assets and should be disqualified from the assemblies.
PPP’s attorney Sardar Latif Khosa took the lead and argued his case for almost two hours. He said Shahbaz Sharif had been declared a proclaimed offender in a murder case and had also defaulted on different bank loans. However, when the bench insisted, Khosa failed to substantiate his allegations with documentary evidence.
According to Khosa, the prime minister in his address to parliament and the nation said his children had made properties after 2000. “But documents show that the properties were bought in 1993 and 1995,” he said, adding that prime minister misled the nation and the federal lawmakers as well.
PTI’s counsel Anees Hashmi presented more or less the same arguments and said the prime minister had concealed his assets when he filed nomination papers. “Nawaz Sharif does not fulfill the requirements of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution; therefore, he should be disqualified,” he added.
PAT’s lawyer Istiaq Chaudhry said Premier Nawaz and his brother Shahbaz should be disqualified as they were booked in murder cases, related to the 2014 Model Town massacre. He requested that the court seek a report of the commission, which had conducted an inquiry into the killing of 14 PAT workers in a police crackdown on the party’s headquarters in Model Town.
Meanwhile, ANP’s Central Vice President Bushra Gohar filed a reference against Senator Tarakai and his son Shahram Tarakai for concealing offshore companies, also revealed by the Panama Papers.
During the hearing, the ruling PML-N leaders, including Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Maryam Aurangzeb, Mohsin Shah Nawaz, Daniyal Aziz, Talal Chaudhry and Maiza Hameed were also present.