Thursday, July 27, 2017
The landmark verdict will be announced in Courtroom 1 of the Supreme Court building in Islamabad.
A three-member implementation bench of the apex court had concluded hearing the petitioners and defendants on July 21, giving them time to respond to the Supreme Court-sanctioned joint investigation team's (JIT) report on the Sharif family's financial dealings, submitted on July 10.
The original five-member bench of the Supreme Court which heard the Panama Papers case is going to issue the final verdict. Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Ejaz Afzal Khan, Gulzar Ahmed, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Ijazul Ahsan will be present for the hearing.
Special security arrangements have been made. Besides police from the Security Division and Operations Division, Rangers and FC personnel will also deployed.
Entry to the court premises will only be allowed through passes being issued by the Supreme Court Registrar. The media will be issued passes through the Supreme Court's public relations officer. No unauthorised person will be allowed to enter the capital's Red Zone.
April 20 order and JIT investigation
The April 20 judgement issued by the larger bench in the Panama Papers case had been split 3-2 among the five judges, with two dissenting notes from Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Justice Ejaz Afzal authored the majority opinion in the 540-page judgement.
The two judges who ruled against PM Nawaz Sharif had said he should be disqualified as he could not be considered 'honest' and 'truthful' (ameen and sadiq), whereas the other three were in favour of forming a JIT to definitively answer the question of whether the allegations against the prime minister were true or not. A special bench of the Supreme Court was constituted to examine the case under Section 184/3 of the Constitution. The bench comprised the three judges who had prevailed.
The court had further said that: "upon receipt of the reports, periodic or final of the JIT, as the case may be, the matter of disqualification of respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif] shall be considered. If found necessary for passing an appropriate order in this behalf, [Nawaz Sharif or any other person may be summoned and examined."
The Supreme Court had on May 6 formed the JIT, putting a senior officer of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in charge. After considering the background and antecedents of the officer, FIA’s Additional Director General Wajid Zia, a grade 21 officer, was appointed head of the probe team.
Amer Aziz of the State Bank of Pakistan, Executive Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Bilal Rasool, National Accountability Bureau Director Irfan Naeem Mangi, Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed of Inter-Services Intelligence and Brig Kamran Khurshid of the Military Intelligence were appointed as the remaining members of the team.
The six-member JIT's damning report, submitted after a 60-day investigation that sought answers to 13 questions raised by the Supreme Court's larger bench, had maintained that Prime Minister’s family owned assets beyond its known sources of income. It declared that both Hussain and Hassan Nawaz were used as proxies to build family assets.
Consequently, the six-man JIT concluded that it was compelled to refer to sections 9(a)(v) and 14(c) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, which deal with corruption and corrupt practices, though such charges are yet to be proven in an accountability court.
The JIT report also highlighted Articles 122, 117, 129 and other sections of the Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order 1984 (Law of Evidence), which places the burden of disproving the allegations on the person facing accusations.
The JIT pointed out failure on the part of the Sharifs to produce the required information that would confirm their “known sources of income”, saying that prima facie, it amounted to saying that they were not able to reconcile their assets with their means of income.
The prime minister's daughter, Maryam Nawaz, had on the same evening issued a strongly-worded statement on behalf of the PML-N, saying:
"JIT report REJECTED. Every contradiction will not only be contested but decimated in SC. NOT a penny of public exchequer involved: PMLN."
Her tweet followed a press conference conducted by four senior PML-N leaders, who had taken turns to criticise the JIT report as 'serving Imran Khan's agenda'.
The Sharif family's legal team's strategy in subsequent hearings had focused on discrediting the report, the evidence collected and the means used to do so, and raising questions about the impartiality and capability of the six men who had comprised the JIT.
Kenneth Roth is a man who talks truth to power. The Human Rights Watch chief outdid himself this week. If Saudi Arabia is so concerned about state-sponsored terrorism in its backyard, he intimated, it would do well to stop fixating on Qatar and instead look at its own military intervention in Yemen, the Middle East’s poorest nation.
Or words to that effect.
We applaud Roth. We also understand the dynamic at play when organisations like HRW issue such statements. Meaning that they are not responsible for policymaking, per se, at either the national or international level. But they are gradually replacing the role of traditional lobby groups that rely on partisan support. For this reason — words such as spoken by Roth are heard loud and clear.
Yemen is home to 27 million people. The Riyadh-led military intervention has left 3 million internally displaced and 10,000 dead. In addition, 17 million have access to barely sufficient food to ensure sustenance; 7 million suffer chronic hunger; and a staggering 10 million children have no kind of access to basic medical care, clean drinking water, sanitation and education. According to those who know — Yemen is now facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
If Qatar sponsors terrorism, then what should we call the effects of the Saudi-led war?
Pakistan, for its p art, is regularly on hand to shed crocodile tears for the Palestinians, with the odd few harsh words for Israel; a shortcut to reconsolidating its imagined importance within the Muslim world that challenges not the status quo. We still trade with the US, the Jewish state’s largest financial contributor, and take its aid. All dressed up in the latest shade of realpolitik. Sadly, Pakistan is not alone in this.
But here’s where Pakistan can make a meaningful albeit symbolic difference.
Two words: Saudi Arabia.
The time has come for our establishment to stop eyeing the Kingdom as time-share arrangement to sit out disgraced and disqualified exile conditions. Given Riyadh’s current military aggression in Yemen, the ongoing belligerence towards Qatar and the ever-present behind-the-scenes manoeuvring against Iran – Islamabad should seriously rethink its position on the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance, including the commander-in-chief role of Gen Raheel.
This is unlikely to happen. Given that money talks in this rich man’s world. Which casts Pakistan as the perpetual listener and bidder.
Thus responsibility predictably falls on the shoulders of civil society here to build strong linkages to the anti-Saudi activism found across the Muslim world. In this current climate of accelerated globalisation — it is no longer sufficient to pay vocal tokenism to the Palestinian issue as evidence of a one-size-fits-all liberalism. Nevertheless, this could include taking a leaf out of the Palestinian-led Boycott Divest Sanction initiative. Though this would mean that Pakistan’s elite would be encouraged to give up American imports — from expensive foodstuffs, to clothing to cars to education systems — or perhaps Saudi Islamic Banking schemes.
Pakistan must address a catalog of human rights failings including state-sponsored abductions and a death penalty that amounts to torture, but its national watchdog is muzzled, the U.N. Human Rights Committee said on Thursday.
Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael defended Pakistan's record before the committee earlier this month, but members of the committee said his delegation had given few responses to their questions and very general answers.
They were also concerned at a no-show by the chairman of Pakistan's National Commission for Human Rights, who was allegedly barred from traveling to Geneva to meet them and was not able to probe wrongdoing, they said.
"The Commission is prevented from fully cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms, cannot inquire into the practices of the intelligence agencies, and is not authorized to undertake full inquiries into reports of human rights violations by members of the armed forces," the U.N. committee report said.
Pakistani officials in Islamabad could not immediately be reached for comment on the committee's findings.
At the top of a long list of human rights concerns were Pakistan's renewed use of the death penalty, its blasphemy laws, and "enforced disappearances" and extrajudicial killings.
Enforced disappearances, seen in tribal areas and Baluchistan for the past 15 years, have become widespread across Pakistan, committee member Olivier de Frouville told reporters.
"This is an admitted fact even within the country that this is carried out by agents of the state," he said, adding that the government's own investigations were insufficient.
A high number of people were allegedly in secret detention in military internment centers, the committee's report said. Killings were allegedly perpetrated by the police, military and security forces but there was no law explicitly against such practices.
The committee also lambasted Pakistan's widespread use of hanging since it lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014, following an attack on a school in which more than 150 people, mainly children, were killed.
Death sentences were passed on mentally disabled people and suspects who were minors at the time of the crime, and the method of execution amounted to torture.
"There have been reports of botched executions, failed executions, with grave consequences on physical integrity," de Frouville said.
Pakistan has executed 468 prisoners since 2014 and has 1,500 people on death row, the report said.
Capital punishment was mandatory under blasphemy laws, which often led to false accusations and "mob vengeance", the committee said, calling for those laws to be repealed.