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PM Nawaz Sharif reaches at JIT secretariat

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to arrive at the Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) in Islamabad on Thursday amid tight security and an extensive protocol for his appearance before the joint investigation team (JIT) probing his family’s involvement in the Panama Papers leak case.

The prime minister’s personal secretary will be the only one allowed to enter the FJA building with him. However the premier will face the JIT panel alone.

The JIT had prepared the questionnaire for the prime minister and his children last month. It questioned Hussain Nawaz, the PM’s elder son, on May 28. Hussain has made five appearances before the JIT so far. The investigation team has also grilled the PM’s younger son, Hassan.

According to the notice issued to the PM, he has been called as a witness, not as an accused party in the case.

However, sources privy to the development say the JIT may ask him how he and his children acquired properties and set up various businesses in different parts of the world.

Investigators may also ask the PM about the factual variations in speeches he delivered on different forums after the Panama Papers surfaced, including his address to the nation, his speech in the National Assembly and his statement before the Supreme Court.

Sources said investigators may put questions developed in the light of the statements of his cousin Tariq Shafi and other witnesses.

The JIT has also summoned Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in connection with the probe, while Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani, the author of the Qatari letter, has reportedly offered investigators the opportunity to come to Qatar to record his statement.

The son-in-law of the prime minister retired Captain Mohammad Safdar has also been summoned by the JIT on June 25.

In spite of PM Nawaz’s directive for PML-N leaders and supporters to not converge at the FJA, a crowd has started gathering outside the security parameter in support of their leader.

Banners popped up in the capitalwelcoming the premier in the run-up to his JIT appearance.

All roads leading to the H-8/4 sector, which houses the Judicial Academy, will remain sealed for the duration of the prime minister’s appearance and no civilians will be allowed to enter the area all day.

About 2,500 police personnel along with paramilitary troops have been deployed in and around the area. Well-equipped police teams are manning the checkpoints and the road blockades.

The sub-sector has been searched and scanned while contingents of the anti-riot unit, anti-terrorism squad and police commandos will also be deployed in and around the area. The police reserves have been put on a standby.

Journalists and media representatives have been designated a special entrance and an enclosure at the FJA, with strict orders to not break the security parameter.

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Azhar Hashmi

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