Imran insists burden of proof lies on PM

ISLAMABAD: Speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s hearing of the Panamagate case, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan said his party had no proof of corruption allegedly committed by the prime minister and the burden of proof lay on the government.

“How can we get evidence… they [PM and his family] have accepted the ownership of the London flats [and] are responsible for providing the money trail,” the opposition leader said, adding that the Supreme Court should ask the PM how he had been paying to live there since 1993 if he had not bought the flats before 2006.

Mr Khan said that the PTI did not know the name of the prime minister’s company registered in Panama and that it was the Sharif family’s responsibility to tell the court all about their offshore companies.

PML-N leader claims PTI can foresee defeat in case

The prime minister had been initially reluctant to tell the nation about his offshore investments, he claimed, adding that even after the opposition had pressured him, the prime minister had given a misleading statement in parliament.

In April 2016, the Panama Papers revealed three offshore companies owned by the Sharif family after which the PTI approached the court alleging that the prime minister was involved in money laundering and that the money was used to make offshore investments.

The PTI chairman said that the government was trying to shield itself behind a letter written by a Qatari prince. “[The Sharifs’] answer to all questions is a letter from a Qatari prince, who is a corrupt as well. Whenever the government is asked for proof, it refers to that letter,” he said.

Mr Khan asked what the prince had gotten in exchange for giving the Sharif family Rs300 million. The Gulf Steel Mill was running up losses of 15 million dirhams but suddenly started making a profit in 1980 and was sold for 13 million dirhams to the Qataris, he said.

PTI spokesperson Fawwad Chaudhry lashed out at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for apparently encouraging corruption in the country rather than controlling it. “NAB has helped corruption flourish more than any other department in the country,” he claimed. He said that NAB appeared helpless, which was why it had chosen not to appeal the verdict in the Ishaq Dar money laundering case in 2000.

Mr Chaudhry said the money trail between 1980 and 2000 was patchy at best and that was why the government had presented letters by the Qatari prince.

On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Daniyal Aziz said it was clear that the PTI could foresee a resounding defeat in the Panamagate case. He stressed that the government had provided the courts the money trail for 12 million dirhams.

He also claimed that the PTI was twisting facts and misrepresenting Mr Dar’s statement in his own case. “A referee judge has already given a judgement on Ishaq Dar’s statement,” he said.