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Panama Papers: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif appears before probe body in landmark move

Hundreds of workers from Sharif's party had appeared outside the building to support him, chanting slogans, and holding banners in his favour. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan Jun 15, 2017, 12.40 PM (IST) Taha Siddiqui

In what is being termed an unprecedented move by a sitting Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif appeared before a joint investigation team (JIT) formed by Supreme Court to look into Panama papers, which had named 400 from Pakistan, including the family of the PM. 

The hearing that lasted for four hours started at 11 am. Sharif came out and spoke briefly to the press, reading out from a pre-written statement. "We have presented ourselves before the court. I have given account for every penny. Whatever and how big of a conspiracy the opposing forces in the country hatch against me, they will not be able to find any fault," Sharif told journalists outside the Federal Judicial Academy, which has become the temporary office for the JIT.

Hundreds of workers from Sharif's party had appeared outside the building to support him, chanting slogans, and holding banners in his favour. More than 2,600 police personnel were deputed to secure the area.

Speaking exclusively to WION, journalist Umar Cheema who was part of the Panama papers investigations, also termed it a historic day for Pakistan.  

"Many people had always dreamt of this day and it has finally happened -- the top man in the country has appeared for accountability. It is a good day for the rule of law in the country," Cheema said. 

On the other hand, the political opposition in the country, namely the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) took this opportunity to lash out at Sharif and his family, calling them criminals. "Nawaz Sharif has not presented himself, but he was summoned. Let us not forget that he is facing criminal charges. There is no glory in that," PTI spokesperson Fawad Choudhry said. 

Going forward, the Pakistan PM's brother, Shahbaz Sharif, will appear before the JIT on Saturday, and his son-in-law, Captain Safdar (retd), will be appearing on June 24.  

Earlier this month, Sharif's two sons, Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, had also been grilled by the JIT in multiple interrogation sessions.  

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