ISLAMABAD - The government Thursday told the Senate that the SC-sanctioned joint investigation team (JIT) on the Panama Papers case “exceeded” its mandate.

It also said that the demand for the resignation of prime minister was out of question in the wake of the JIT report which was dubbed as “flawed report”.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid while concluding the debate that started on a motion presented by opposition parties on the JIT report, said: “the JIT exceeded from its mandate as it went beyond 13 questions, which were pointed out by the apex court to go to the heart of the matter.”

He said the SC in its judgement had asked the JIT to look into the 13 questions to probe the matter.

“On the basis of the JIT report it is totally out of question to ask the prime minister to resign,” the law minister replied to the demand of the opposition benches, who earlier said that the democracy was not facing any threat in the country with the resignation of PM Nawaz Sharif and he should leave his office in the wake of the JIT report.

A number of cases mentioned in the JIT report including Chaudhry Sugar Mills case as well as Hudaibiyia Papers Mills cases and the mentioning of FIRs have no nexus with the original direction of the court.

“The whole process [of JIT probe] was mala fide, [the] JIT never showed the documents to the respondents, most [of] the documents in the report are not certified,” the law minister said.

He said that the JIT sought documents from other countries through legal firms, though mutual legal assistance only exists through state-to-state.

Hamid also objected to the way the fee amounting to thousands of British pounds was sent to the law firm of the cousin of JIT head Wajid Zia.

“The witnesses were browbeaten and none of the documents produced by [the] JIT could be relied upon,” Hamid was of the opinion.

“The two volumes of the report were prepared on the basis of a case that was already decided by the courts,” he claimed.

The law minister also objected to the JIT for “tapping” of phones of witnesses.

He pointed out that JIT wrongly wrote against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for being a tax defaulter as his tax record of last 34 years was available.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Aitzaz Ahsan, while taking part in the debate, stressed that the JIT confined itself to the 13 questions and this could be judged by reading the report from its first page to the last.

“Those who are asking otherwise perhaps have not read the report,” Ahsan said.

Mentioning some parts of the report, he said that PM Nawaz Sharif no longer remained loyal to the country, if he was drawing salary from the foreign firm.

“Those who are saying that the report was prepared long ago and not by the JIT were wrong as the Supreme Court had not prepared 13 questions three years ago,” the PPP leader said

Earlier, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that if the prime minister had to quit as a result of accountability, he must but it would be wrong to say that it would pose threat to democracy.

There are many in the PML-N in the parliament who can assume the mantle without the parliament and democracy being derailed, the senator said.

He said that by resigning the prime minister would also stand on a high moral ground to demand an end to the culture of sacred cows in fight against corruption.

Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, former information minister, also found an opportunity to attack the army saying that though corruption might be the biggest menace of this country yet some other happenings caused more damage to the country than the corrupt politicians.

“I want to ask whether the decision to make the country ‘One Unit’ caused more damage to the county or the corrupt politicians. Whether the dissolution of Pakistan into two parts caused more damage or the corrupt politicians,” he questioned.

Rasheed further said that whether terrorism grew in the country because of corruption, whether the miseries of the people of Balochistan were due to corruption, whether the dangers facing the country on its borders were due to corruption.

He also objected that JIT chief sought services of the legal firm belonging to his cousin to probe offshore wealth of the Sharif family.

He said: “49,000 UK pounds have been transferred to the accounts of that firm.” He said that the remarks used by the JIT for a parliamentarian like Rehman Malik were also condemnable.

Another PML-N Senator Professor Sajid Mir followed suit and said that the accountability was not the problem of this country rather the problems of the country was who would be its real ruler, either civilians and elected leaders or the hidden hands —a veiled reference for the army.

Unfortunately, Nawaz Sharif is one of those people who want supremacy of civilian rule, he said.

The problem is that some people do not accept the supremacy of the civilian rule and want to keep the foreign policy into their own hands, Mir said. At the end of the session, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani remarked that the survival of the country lied in democracy, democratic system and the rule of law and they would protect it at all costs.

Imran Mukhtar