ISLAMABAD - Chairman National Accountability Bureau Qamar Zaman Chaudhry has called a meeting to discuss a counter strategy regarding the report of Joint Investigation Team in the Panamagate case on Sunday, a day before the Supreme Court’s hearing in the case, The Nation has learnt reliably on Thursday.

According to the notification (a copy available with The Nation), the meeting on JIT report will be held on July 16, 2017 in the chair of chairman NAB. Deputy Chairman NAB, Prosecutor General Accountability (PGA), AGPA, Director General Operations Division, DG NAB Rawalpindi Division and other relevant officials have been directed to ensure their presence in the meeting. The Prosecution and Operations Divisions have been tasted to prepare a response.

Well-placed sources told The Nation that it would be first meeting in NAB after submission of JIT report in the apex court on Monday last. NAB chairman flew to Holland last Sunday evening to attend an international conference and even nobody within the Bureau knew the details of the conference and agenda of the chairman’s visit.

They said that the NAB top bosses will look into the JIT report in details and Prosecution and Operations Division would brief the chairman in the light of JIT report. The NAB officials will discuss the strategy if court will order it to reopen Hudaibiya Papers Mills case or refer it the reference in Panama Papers case.  

According to JIT report, “as per information provided by NAB vide letter dated June 21, 2017, 1x inquiry and 8x investigations are under process since 1999-2000 and even after lapse of about 18 years, no worthwhile progress has been mad till date. These under process cases include the two most important cases pertaining to the domestic assets of Raiwand estate and offshore assets of Avenfield properties (the primary of the constitution petition Nos, 29, 30 of 2016 and 03 of 2017, Panama Papers case) but despite being authorised almost two decades earlier, they remained pended on one pretext or the other and no serious effort is on record to finalise these outstanding cases on merit”.

It further revealed that Sharif family went into appeal in the Lahore High Court in six cases time to time. Out of these six cases, four were references filed by NAB and 2 were challans filed by the FIA. 

It further recommended: “Where the JIT found that the NAB inquiries/investigations have been considerably delayed and are still under process even after a passage of about 17-18 years. The references/Challans which have been quashed/respondents acquitted by the Lahore High Court but despite strong grounds, no appeal was preferred. The cases have been closed without proper justification”.        

The JIT has also recommended the reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills case observing that substantial evidence substantiates the FIA and NAB investigations and establishes linkage between the investigations of two departments.

Chairman NAB had also appeared before the JIT in the first week of July where the investigators interrogated him for around one hour.

Former NAB Chief Gen (Retd) Amjad Hussain and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had already recorded their statements regarding Hudaibiya Paper Mills case. In the confessional statement before a magistrate on April 4, 2000, Ishaq Dar had alleged that the Sharif family used the Hudaibiya Paper Mills for laundering money from the country in the 1990s.