Panama Papers: PM Nawaz to appear before JIT on Thursday | Pakistan

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be questioned on Thursday by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), set up by the Supreme Court to investigate corruption claims that surfaced following the Panama Papers leak.

The PM House on Monday confirmed the prime minister had received a summons by the JIT. It will be the first time a sitting prime minister will appear before any investigative agency.

The prime minister is slated to appear before the investigation team at 11am.

The premier’s brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has also been summoned by the JIT on June 17.  

Former interior minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Rehman Malik, who previously led a corruption investigation focusing on the incumbent premier, has also been summoned by the JIT and is scheduled to appear before the investigators on June 23.

Meanwhile, Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jaber Al-Thani, who wrote an earlier letter in favour of Sharif, has said that the royal family member has no qualms if investigators visit him in Doha to record his statement.

Sons of the prime minister, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, have so far made multiple appearances before the JIT. Hussain has been questioned five times by the investigation team while Hassan has appeared before it twice. 

PM Sharif has denied any wrongdoing over his family allegedly using offshore companies to buy luxury flats in a posh London neighbourhood, and has said his family wealth was acquired legally.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from office on the back of the Panama Papers leaks, but it ordered further investigations under a JIT. 

The JIT team comprises members from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). 

The investigation team has asked the the prime minister to bring “all relevant records, documents and material” to the interview.

“It’s a litmus test of our laws that all citizens are equal in front of the law, so we believe that Nawaz Sharif should appear before JIT in this case,” said Naeem ul Haque, spokesman for the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The Supreme Court began investigating Sharif after the main political parties failed to agree on a committee to probe the Panama Papers leaks, and PTI chairman Imran Khan threatened mass protests and to shut down Islamabad.

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