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Pakistan top court verdict on Panamagate has Indian defence experts divided

At the heart of the matter is the legitimacy of the funds used by the Sharif family to purchase several high-end London properties via offshore companies. In picture: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Photograph: (AFP)

ANI New Delhi, India Apr 21, 2017, 01.57 AM (IST)

Following the Pakistan Supreme Court's verdict on Panamagate, Indian defence experts on Friday characterised it as "considerable relief" to Nawaz Sharif, while others said it weakened the position of the Pakistan prime minister.

"Nawaz Sharif's position has weakened ever since the Panama leak appeared in the newspaper and his party also lost considerable support. With this judgement, Sharif's position has further weakened," defence expert Qamar Agha told ANI.

Defence expert Uday Bhaskar said that the apex court's verdict has given a big relief to Sharif.

"I would characterise this judgement of Pakistan Supreme Court as providing considerable relief to Nawaz Sharif, because though it was slightly split verdict three judges were in favour of Sharif while two were against. This gives a lot of relief to the prime minister as there was no incriminating evidence that would call for further judicial action," he told ANI.

Announcing the much-awaited Panamagate case verdict, the Pakistan Supreme Court yesterday neither gave a clean chit nor a disqualification to Nawaz Sharif, but ordered the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe how money was transferred to Qatar.

According to the Dawn, defence minister Khawaja Asif told reporters outside the court that the verdict was split 3-2.

"They have said what the PM already said in his letter -- that a commission should be constituted to investigate the matter," he said.

"We are ready for all kinds of investigation. It has been established today that any evidence or sacrifices given by our opponents in the SC were not enough. We have succeeded," he added.

The Panama Papers, which refer to a massive trove of secret documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca -- specialising in helping the global elite stash wealth in offshore tax havens -- had said that the prime minister's children Maryam, Hasan and Hussain Nawaz "were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several [offshore] companies."

At least eight offshore companies were found to have links to the Sharif family in the documents that were leaked following which the case was filed by various petitioners -- PTI chief Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami emir Sirajul Haq and Sheikh Rashid Ahmed -- seeking disqualification of prime minister Sharif over his alleged misstatement in his address to the nation on April 5 and his speech before the National Assembly on May 16, 2016.

The petitioners claimed that the prime minister lied about the investments made by his children in offshore companies, which led to the acquisition of four apartments in London's upscale Park Lane neighbourhood. 



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