ISLAMABAD - Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb Wednesday said the JIT report had failed to find any corroborative evidence in regard to the allegations of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption levelled by the petitioners against the Prime Minister.

By presenting himself and his family members for accountability the Prime Minister had established an historic precedent, notwithstanding the fact that he enjoyed constitutional immunity and his sons, being non-resident Pakistanis doing business in foreign countries, were also not under any legal obligation to participate in a probe regarding their private business, she said speaking in a current affairs programme of a private TV channel. Answering a question she said the Prime Minister offered himself for accountability to uphold the sanctity of law and the constitution and now in future nobody would be able to escape accountability. The controversy surrounding the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) had been amply established by its own report, she added.

The PML-N, she said, had reservations about the JIT right from the beginning and those were also brought into the notice of the Supreme Court and which were still intact.

Marriyum said that the contents of the report were not an indictment against the Prime Minister as the entire report talked in terms of probabilities rather than definite conclusions or solid proofs. She said that the case still had to be decided by the honourable judges, therefore it would be wrong to draw any inferences from the JIT report.

The minister said that the JIT in spite of its best efforts could not find even a single instance of corruption, or kickbacks pertaining to the three tenures of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister, two terms as Chief Minister of Punjab and one stint as Finance Minister of the province.

She categorically said that the Prime Minister was not linked to the Panama Papers case in any way and the JIT report had also failed to find any concrete evidence to that effect.

To a question by the anchor as to whether she would like to give credit to Imran Khan for triggering a process of accountability in the country, the minister said how could any credit be given to a person who himself was trying to avoid accountability, had failed to provide money trail, was showing utmost reluctance to account for foreign funding and was challenging the jurisdiction of the ECP in that regard, besides being an absconder from three courts.

The minister observed that the PTI had failed to make any contribution in the parliament and the much hyped electoral reforms and the only thing that it did was the setting up of a circus in the country.

 She said that according to all the surveys including Gallup, the PML-N was the largest and the most popular  party of the country.

The minister said that the Panama Papers case would be decided in accordance with the law and the constitution.

To a query by the anchor as to what would be the line of action of the PML-N in case the Prime Minister was disqualified by the court, the minister said that it was not appropriate to make assumptions in that regard and it should better be left to the honourable judges.

However, she remarked that the PML-N was not considering or thinking about alternatives as it was confident that the Prime Minister would emerge unscathed from the Panama Papers case.

To a question as to why the Prime Minister and his family appeared before the JIT, if they had reservations about it,  Marriyum remarked that it was done in deference to the law. She said that the other reason was that the opposition was using the Panama Papers case as crutches to achieve their political objectives and the government did not want to give them another opportunity to denigrate it by staying away from the investigations.

The minister said that the Prime Minister had shown remarkable poise and sangfroid in the face of the media trial and had also not said anything against judiciary or any other state institution.

APP