For the first time, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz appeared before the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the high- profile Panamagate graft case against her family.
43-year-old Maryam Nawaz was accompanied by her husband Muhammad Safdar, brothers Hassan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and prime minister’s Special Assistant Asif Kirmani.
Maryam, who is carefully being groomed by her father as political heir, arrived at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) in the capital for questioning by the six-member JIT set up in May by the Supreme Court. The JIT is expected to complete the report by July 10.
A large number of workers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were present outside the building who raised slogans in her favour. Maryam responded by waving to the supporters.
She is the eighth member of the Sharif family to be summoned by the JIT.
The JIT has repeatedly questioned her brothers Hussain and Hassan, while it has also recorded the statements of Prime Minister Sharif, his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the prime ministers son-in-law (retd) Captain Mohammad Safdar, the prime ministers cousin Tariq Shafi, and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, the father-in-law of the prime ministers younger daughter.
PML-N top leadership has criticised the JITs decision to summon the daughter of the prime minister.
Sharifs brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly objected to Maryams summoning.
"There is no moral justification of the JIT decision to summon the daughter of the prime minister," he said yesterday.
"We accept the JITs privilege to summon any person as witness but our civilisation teaches us to respect women," he added.
But Maryam, in a series of tweets, showed defiance and resolutely defended her father.
"He (Sharif) has seen [and] been through the most testing times, in the 30-plus years of his political career? yet as an affectionate [and] protective father, I saw his eyes filled with concern and apprehension over his daughter’s appearance before JIT," she tweeted.
"I told him that I am your daughter, trained by you, [and] will neither cower down, nor yield to pressure [and] nothing will deter me from taking up the cudgels against transgression and injustice. Will appear before the JIT, follow the rule of law as you always have," she said in another tweet.
Maryam’s name was in the Panama Papers with her brothers as the beneficial owner of the offshore companies “Neilsen Enterprises and Nescoll Ltd “which owned the four Park Lane apartments. These properties are at the centre of controversy.
Sharif’s critics and opposition parties allege that the property was bought through ill-gotten money in 1990s when Sharif served twice as prime minister.
Sharif has rejected the allegations and said that the properties were bought with the money invested by his late father in the Gulf states.
It has been testified by Qatari prince Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, who in two letters written to Supreme Court revealed that late Muhammad Sharif, father of Nawaz Sharif, had invested 12 million dirham in the real estate business of royal family.
He said the investment with profits was later handed over to Sharif’s family.
There are reports that two members of the JIT went to Qatar yesterday to record the statement of the Qatari royal.
(With PTI inputs)