By Atiya Riffat
The deposed prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday continued recording his statement and said he wasn’t involved in any dealings with the Qatari royals or in the business affairs of his own family. He said his sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz are adult and fully independent and responsible for their actions and business affairs.
Nawaz was responding to the 127 questions put forward by the accountability court in the Avenfield reference. He has almost completed statement with only four questions left to reply that pertain to his speeches. Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar will record their statements later on.
At one point, the former prime minister in a lighter note said: “Why are we now talking about 1980; shouldn’t we go a little further back to 1940?” About a certificate related to the Capital FZE on whose Iqama he was disqualified by the Supreme Court, Nawaz said the certificate is totally irrelevant to the charge framed against him and was produced with ulterior motives by Wajid Zia.
“The copy of Form 9 and Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) employment record is inadmissible and not related to the charge framed,” said Nawaz who added that he was never the owner, director or shareholder of the FZE and was never involved in running the company. Similarly, he submitted that he was not involved in setting up Gulf Steel as it had been launchedinvolved in setting up Gulf Steel as it had been launched by his father, was not privy to any 12 million dirham investment and settlement with the Qatari royals, never remained involved in obtaining loan for Hudaibiya Paper Mills and later in litigation of Al-Towfeek Investment Company.
Nawaz also said he had no connection whatsoever with the Nielsen, Nescoll and Coomber Group trust deeds and never filed these trust deeds with any application before the Supreme Court.
About the two expert opinions about the trust deeds, he said opinions and inferences were inadmissible as evidence under the law. Nawaz said the Avenfield apartments never remained in his possession. “The assertion of the investigation officer that I obtained these apartments while holding public office is totally misconstrued,” he said and added, “As per my information these apartments were not purchased by Hussain Nawaz in 1990.”
To a question that Wajid Zia has also attached a mortgage deed of the flats, the former prime minister said he never remained associated with any mortgage process. About a Financial Investigation Agency of British Virgin Island (FIA-BVI)’s letter, he said it wasn’t related to him and was an attested copy of a photocopy. He submitted the same reply about Mossack Fonseca’s letter to FIA-BVI.
Responding to a question about the affidavit of Shazi Nackvi submitted before Justice Queen’s Bench Division in London, Nawaz said, “The affidavit correctly records his version that I was never a part of obtaining loan for the Hudaibiya Paper Mills and later its settlement.”
To a question that Wajid has submitted a letter which the JIT had received from the UAE’s ministry of justice, Nawaz said the letter was received in response to an alleged mutual legal assistance (MLA) application but relevant MLA was not produced as evidence in the case. “The contents of the letter pertain to the transactions which I was never involved,” he said.
Commenting on the hiring of Akhtar Riaz Raja of Quist Solicitors, Nawaz said, “He is a cousin of Wajid Zia and his statement before the accountability court is testament to his bias and hostility toward the accused persons. Akhtar Raja had received a letter from Jeremy Freeman who had confirmed the two trust deeds related of Nielsen, Nescoll and Coomber Group Inc. Freeman in his letter had confirmed that he also retained copies of the two trust deeds but neither Raja nor the investigation officer tried to obtain those copies.”
About forensic expert Robert Radley’s report, Nawaz said the report was prepared on the basis of emailed photocopies. “Akhtar Raja should have known that there is no concept of the forensic examination of the documents of which no real copy is available. Radley instead of regretting to examine the photocopies went ahead with the examination with ulterior motives and mala fide intent,” he said.
He also objected over Radley’s meeting with the three members of the NAB team for two and half hours a day before Radley recorded his statement. He said the meeting was exclusively held to discuss the Calibri font and also raised questions about the expertise of Radley, saying he was not an expert.
About the establishment of Gulf Steel Mills (GSM) in Dubai, sale of its 75 per cent shares and then the remaining 25 per cent as well as the 12 million AED investment with the Qatari royal family, Nawaz said except from the opening ceremony of GSM in 1974, he had no knowledge whatsoever about any event and transaction. “I have seen copies of the agreements but I was never a participant in any event related to the above said question,” he added.
Regarding the Qatari letter submitted by his son Hussain, Nawaz said he had no knowledge about that as he never remained associated with any matter related to Qatar. To a question that Wajid stated that Qatari prince avoided joining the proceedings and provide supporting documents to his letter, the former prime minister said, “I was never involved or associated with any transaction, event or correspondence related to Qatar or the Qatari royal family. However, the record clearly shows that the Qatari prince never avoided joining proceedings with the JIT rather he had throughout shown his willingness to do so whether in his palace at Qatar or Pakistan’s embassy Doha. As per record, he confirmed the veracity of his letters submitted before the Supreme Court.”
About transportation of steel machinery from Dubai to Jeddah, Nawaz said firstly, it was not scrap machinery as JIT had written to the UAE authorities, and secondly, it was transported from Sharjah, not Dubai.” The JIT member intentionally misled the Dubai authorities to obtain a report which is inherently defective and inadmissible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nawaz, talking to reporters inside the courtroom, said the PTI did not have any vote bank and what they could do at the maximum was only to hold a press conference only. He was responding to a question about the PTI holding a press conference following his statement before the accountability court the other day.
Nawaz said the PTI workers might come to the court to see what’s going on in his case. Replying to a question that many TV channels have stopped showing the PML-N rallies, Maryam said, “Some TV channels show the public meeting venue even two hours before start of the rally when it is not filled up. Had there been no social media, the public could never come to know that how good or bad the meeting had been.”
According to Maryam, the PML-N had a big social media team and whenever she goes to a far-off area for public meeting, she does not take the core team with her. These are the local members of social media who cover the event from entry to exit.