Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Appears Before Panel Investigating Family Wealth
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appeared before a committee to investigate his family’s wealth on Thursday, the first time a Pakistani prime minister was grilled by a research agency.
Sharif scrutiny rocked Pakistan, but the investigation – ordered by the Supreme Court – is increasingly politicized. Sharif arrived at the Joint Research Team (JIT) in Islamabad wearing traditional shalwar kameez robe and loose pants, but did not speak to the media.
It was not clear how lengthy the hearing, which was to begin at 11am (0600 GMT).
The prime minister and his sons deny the allegations.
The Supreme Court ruled in April that there was insufficient evidence to remove Sharif from the office of opposition corruption allegations, but ordered further investigations.
The Supreme Court agreed last year to investigate the Sharif family’s marine wealth after the opposition threatened to protest after the leak of “Panama Documents”.
Documents published by the law firm of Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca appear to show that Sharif’s daughter and his two foreign owned son owned companies located in the British Virgin Islands used them to buy property in London.
Sharif, whose father was a prominent industrialist, said his family wealth was legally acquired.
The three-time prime minister, Sharif was expelled twice in the 1990s, even during a military coup in 1999. He later lived in exile, mainly in Saudi Arabia.
He returned to power in the 2013 elections.
His spokesman did not respond to requests for comments.
Pakistan has been plagued by corruption for decades, politicians who often accuse transplant rivals.
The Supreme Court has given the Committee two months to investigate the family and then give its conclusions.
The six-man group, comprised of members of civilian investigative agencies and military intelligence officers, examines three generations of Sharif family wealth.
The team accused Ministries of falsifying the old files, but Finance Minister Ishaq Dar rejected the allegations on Wednesday, adding that the claims meant the process was becoming “suspicious,” local media reported.
Sharif’s camp tried to withdraw two members of the investigation team and his party in Pakistan Muslim-Nawaz (PML-N) has expressed outrage over a fleeing photograph drawn from a sample of security cameras son of Sharif Hussain, That appears before the panel.
Opinion polls suggest Sharif’s party is likely to win the next election next year.
A senior PML-N told Reuters that the party could not call early elections if Sharif was expelled by a Supreme Court decision and would elect a new prime minister to assume until the general election.