Maryam Nawaz, while recording her statement in the Avenfield reference before the accountability court in Islamabad on Thursday, raised multiple objections against the joint investigation team (JIT) that had investigated her family’s business dealings at the behest of the Supreme Court.
The investigation had led to her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s, ouster from office as well as the filing of multiple corruption references against their family.
Maryam in her statement today termed the inclusion of two officials of intelligence agencies in JIT “inappropriate” and questioned the competence of the entire team.
She brought to the court’s notice that retired Brig Muhammad Nauman Saeed, a director in Inter-Services Intelligence, was also “a member of the committee that had probed the issue of Dawn Leaks, which had intensified civil and military tension.”
Maryam testified that neither the JIT report nor the response to requests seeking mutual legal assistance (MLA) purportedly sent by the JIT to the UK and Saudi Arabia were produced before the court.
“The formal application to obtain Volume X of the JIT report (comprising the MLA requests) was moved but prosecution opposed the request and the court dismissed the plea,” she recalled. “Therefore, [subsequent] use of these documents violated my right to a fair trial.”
Maryam said that the Supreme Court, in its order of April 20, 2017, had constituted the JIT and tasked it to respond to 13 questions. She claimed that since the purpose of the JIT was to assist the SC in a constitutional petition, “the JIT report cannot be considered as evidence against me.”
The money trail
When quizzed over the establishment, running and sale proceeds of Gulf Steel Mills, Maryam said that she was hardly one year old when the mill was established, adding that she had no information about the operations of the mill and how its shares were disposed of.
She also claimed that she knew nothing about the statements of Tariq Shafi regarding two agreements for the disposal of the shares of Gulf Steel Mills.
Maryam distanced herself and her father from Hudaibiya Paper Mills as well, saying: “Arrangement of the transfer of shares and appointment of any director of Hudaibiya Paper Mills from the Sharif family was the exclusive domain of my late grandfather Mian Muhammad Sharif. He was the sole person responsible for setting up all business concerns; me or my father did not contribute or had any role in this regard.”
Most of what Maryam said in the court today was a rehash of the statements her father Nawaz Sharif had given to the court in the previous days.
Their statements were identical to the extent that Maryam’s counsel Amjad Pervaiz suggested to the court that her answers could be “copied and pasted” in order to expedite the proceedings and not have the court typists rekey the same information — a request that was accepted.
Dragging daughters to court is a bad precedent: Nawaz
After Maryam partially recorded her statement under Section 342 of the CrPC (Criminal Procedures Code), Nawaz complained that “victimisation has engulfed even those members of my family that have nothing to do with government functions and family business.”
Nawaz said that it was “painful” for him to see his daughter testifying as an accused in the witness box.
“This is a ruthless act,” he said. “This is setting a very bad precedent. I can pass this hard time but this trend will also be faced by others and it will be very difficult for them to go through such an experience. Those who are setting this trend will have to pay the cost.
“This used to happen centuries ago. Pakistan was not established for such victimisation. It means that we have changed our direction.”