ISLAMABAD - Amid mounting pressure on the prime minister to step down in the face of serious charges against the Sharif family levelled in the joint investigation team (JIT) report, the legal team of the government will land in Supreme Court today to defend the ruling family.

The three-member apex court bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and members Justice Azmat Saeed and Justice Ejazul Ahsan will take up the reply of respondents on the JIT report.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said yesterday that they will challenge the JIT report by confronting every clause of it with complete proof, and Nawaz Sharif will not step down in any case.

The defence team had finalised the reply on the JIT report, pointing out the flaws and legal discrepancies in it, but deferred its filing in the court on Saturday.

PML-N insiders said the legal team could even delay the reply further to see the court’s “mood” today (Monday), and the party would then adjust its final strategy accordingly.

Party sources informed The Nation that the legal strategy of the government was being kept secret and was only known to the legal team being led by Khawaja Haris advocate and assisted by Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Barrister Zafarullah and Anoosha Rehman.

Party sources said they did not know the defence line of government’s legal team, but one thing they were sure of was that unwarranted sharing of things with media would be avoided as the leadership believed that most of the troubles they were facing were due to excessive media interaction by the ruling family members in the past.

But some government sources said the defence would seek time for filing of reply on JIT report. They could point out flaws and lacunae in the JIT report and even pray to the court for hearing their objections before further proceeding on the Panama Papers case.

A legal expert also said that the hearing would not conclude on Monday and the defence side might seek time to submit objections to the lengthy JIT report.

As for the petitioners side, the lawyers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Jamaat-i-Islami and Awami Muslim League of Sheikh Rashid Ahmad had finalised their submissions on the JIT report.

PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry said the party had asked its counsel Naeem Bokhari to advance precise arguments before the court, which should revolve around disqualification of the prime minister under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.

Terming it an open-and-shut case Fawad said, “We believe it is a concluded case as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, two judges of the Supreme Court and now the JIT have identified the prime minister as a guilty party.”

Zafar Malik adds: Speaking to journalists in Sialkot, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said on Sunday that the PML-N government will challenge the JIT inquiry report in Supreme Court on Monday.

He said that the government was successfully foiling all the conspiracies being hatched by the anti-state elements against democracy and the country. He added they won’t allow anyone to derail the democracy.

Asif made it clear that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would not step down and would continue serving the nation, as he was elected with a heavy mandate of the masses. He was of the firm belief that the PML-N government would complete its constitutional term.

Nawaz, he said, was the most popular prime minister of Pakistan ever, who had been removed from power twice illegally and unconstitutionally. "Every time his government was toppled, Nawaz Sharif emerged stronger.”

The minister claimed PML-N government was toppled in 1999 as a punishment for making the country an atomic power.

The prevailing political scenario was making Nawaz Sharif even more popular, Khawaja Asif claimed. He even predicted a PML-N victory in the 2018 general elections – that too with a heavy mandate, saying the whole nation was fully supporting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

About external threats to the country, the defence minister said that the armed forces of Pakistan were defending the eastern and western boundaries of the country, as India was busy in weakening Pakistan economically and politically - especially after the successful launch of the grand project of CPEC.

He said that both India and Afghanistan were unable to digest the CPEC, which was bringing the economical and industrial revolution in Pakistan with the help of China.

He said that defence of Pakistan was in very strong hands, as the government had made the national defence impregnable. The PML-N leader said that the armed forces of Pakistan had the full capabilities to defend every inch of the motherland.

"The enemy will now get strong response, in a befitting manner, from Pakistan on each ceasefire violation by the India and Afghanistan," he added.

He said Pakistan would continue its frontline role against terrorism for durable global peace.

Khwaja Asif, who also holds portfolio of Water and Power, said that the areas not paying electricity bills would continue to face harsh loadshedding despite the increase in the production of electricity in the country.

Asif made it clear that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would not step down and would continue serving the nation, as he was elected with a heavy mandate of the masses. He was of the firm belief that the PML-N government would complete its constitutional term.

Nawaz, he said, was the most popular prime minister of Pakistan ever, who had been removed from power twice illegally and unconstitutionally. “Every time his government was toppled, Nawaz Sharif emerged stronger.”

The minister claimed PML-N government was toppled in 1999 as a punishment for making the country an atomic power.

The prevailing political scenario was making Nawaz Sharif even more popular, Khawaja Asif claimed. He even predicted a PML-N victory in the 2018 general elections – that too with a heavy mandate, saying the whole nation was fully supporting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

About external threats to the country, the defence minister said that the armed forces of Pakistan were defending the eastern and western boundaries of the country, as India was busy in weakening Pakistan economically and politically - especially after the successful launch of the grand project of CPEC.

He said that both India and Afghanistan were unable to digest the CPEC, which was bringing the economical and industrial revolution in Pakistan with the help of China.

He said that defence of Pakistan was in very strong hands, as the government had made the national defence impregnable. The PML-N leader said that the armed forces of Pakistan had the full capabilities to defend every inch of the motherland.

“The enemy will now get strong response, in a befitting manner, from Pakistan on each ceasefire violation by the India and Afghanistan,” he added.

He said Pakistan would continue its frontline role against terrorism for durable global peace.

Khwaja Asif, who also holds portfolio of Water and Power, said that the areas not paying electricity bills would continue to face harsh loadshedding despite the increase in the production of electricity in the country.