Embattled Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother and Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif today appeared before a Supreme Court-appointed team probing the Panamagate graft case — the fourth member of the Sharif family to be grilled by the panel. Shehbaz, accompanied by his son Hamza Shehbaz, Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) this morning to depose before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family. The 65-year-old Punjab chief minister had reached Islamabad yesterday to discuss matters with his lawyers prior to his appearance before the JIT.
Shehbaz’s deposition before the graft panel comes just days after his brother and prime minister Nawaz was grilled by the JIT. He is the fourth member of the Sharif family to depose before the JIT. Nawaz, who became Pakistan’s first sitting premier to be grilled by a graft probe panel, after his deposition had said he and his family have done nothing wrong and lashed out at “some unseen elements” for plotting against his democratically-elected government. “I have put myself and my family up for trial and provided the details of financial transactions made even before my own birth,” Sharif had told reporters after a nearly two-hour-long questioning by the JIT on Thursday.
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Apart from Nawaz, the JIT has questioned his sons — Hussain and Hasan — last month over the family’s alleged improper business dealings. His eldest son Hussain was questioned five times while Hasan, the younger son, was summoned twice. The JIT summoned Shehbaz earlier this week to record his statement today and face questioning by the six-member team. There is no direct allegation against Shehbaz but he is being questioned to get evidence if any on the prime minister’s alleged involved in any kind of money laundering.
The apex court last year took up the case and issued a split decision over allegations of money laundering when Sharif was the prime minister in 1990s. Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party has spearheaded the push against Sharif, had demanded his resignation. The JIT is bound to complete the probe in 60 days unless it is granted additional time. The JIT comprises anti- corruption officials, along with members of the powerful spy agency ISI and the Military Intelligence.