The ruling family is upset with Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Salman Aslam Butt and his arguments before the Supreme Court’s larger bench hearing a slew of petitions filed in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations.
Giving arguments before the bench which started hearing the case in November, Butt on Dec 9 claimed that Sharif’s statement made on the floor of the house after the emergence of the Panamagate scandal about money trail of his family’s’ wealth and businesses was a ‘political’ statement.
A senior PML-N leader revealed to The Express Tribune that the party leadership and its legal minds were unhappy with the stance adopted by Butt before the bench with regard to contradictions in Sharif’s statements. “The leadership has started conferring with party’s senior lawyers to replace him [Butt] with some other lawyer in the Panama leaks case,” he said.
Another PML-N leader expressed wonder why Butt, during his arguments, had said that the Sharif family did every business on ‘parchi’ and that Sharif made a political statement in parliament.
He claimed that Sharif’s counsel made these statements on his own. “He [Butt] had a complete record to establish the money trail through which the Sharifs had acquired their London properties but he did not show it.”
He also revealed that the party leadership has already engaged Akram Sheikh to appear before the Election Commission of Pakistan in a few cases. This development shows that now the PML-N leadership is not relying on Butt.
On his part, Butt rejected the reports regarding his possible replacement in the Panamagate case. He said he appeared on behalf of the Sharif family before the Lahore High Court on Wednesday in the National Assembly speaker’s ruling case.
The LHC is adjudicating the former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s petition against the speaker’s ruling to reject his reference regarding the disqualification of Sharif. Butt also contended that he did not term Sharif’s statement a ‘political one’
Another lawyer, who is also associated with the Sharif family, believes Butt did not give any statement on his own; otherwise a clarification should have been released in this regard.
“I think Salman Aslam Butt has a strong lobby and it is not easy to remove him from the Panamagate case. Secondly, a larger portion of the case has already been presented by him, therefore, a change of counsel at this stage will be in vain,” he added.
Butt worked as the country’s attorney general for during the first two years of the present regime. He has also been considered as a successful AGP because numbers of judgments on financial matters were issued in the government’s favour during his tenure.
However, Butt was shown the door on March 28, because he apparently lost the case related to the removal of Pervez Musharraf’s name from the ECL.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2016.