‘Don’t harass the Panama JIT’: Supreme Court orders DG FIA to probe record tampering charges against SECP chief

  • An 'organised media campaign' being run regarding JIT's proceedings, remarks Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan
  • Why IB interfering in each and every matter? asks Justice Azmat Saeed

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court bench overseeing the implementation of the Panama case verdict Monday ordered the Federal Investigation Agency director general to probe charges against the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) chairman that he tampered records related to the Sharif family money trail.

The special bench was holding proceedings over the government’s response to the Panama case Joint Investigation Team’s charges that its investigation is being impeded by certain official quarters.

It also took up the matter of the alleged harassment of the members of the JIT and directed the Attorney General to assist the bench in connection with the allegations against the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The three-member bench, chaired by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had been hearing an application filed by the JIT.

During the hearing, the three-member bench also directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to suspend its show-cause notice to Irfan Mangi, the NAB official who is part of the six-member JIT.

“We will not remain silent spectators. We have said before that we do not care if the sky falls or earth crumbles,” said Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the bench.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that every day the government’s representatives attack the JIT and the apex court on various news channels. He stated that they will soon issue an order related to this.

He also said it seems that an organised media campaign was being run regarding the JIT’s proceedings.

“No politician or the media can regulate the framework of the judiciary,” he added.

“Tell your people to remain in their limits,” Justice Ahsan directed the AG.

The bench also warned the government to stop harassing JIT members otherwise it will issue a strict order in this regard.

“Don’t harass the JIT,” Justice Ahsan said, while also ordering the JIT to focus on their task.

Questioning the role of the IB, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said the court will continue to walk the tight rope of the law.

“Has the IB been privatised? How did Hussain Nawaz come into the possession of details acquired by the IB from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra)? Why the IB has been interfering in each and every matter?” he asked.

“For God’s sake, don’t use the IB [in this case],” he said, adding that the IB’s reply to the accusations against it was “classical denial”.

“We will not let anyone to play with state institutions,” he said.

Panama probe

The Supreme Court decided to begin investigating the Sharif family in November last year after the main political parties failed to agree on a committee to probe the April 2016 Panama Papers leaks, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan threatened mass protests and to ‘shut down Islamabad’ in protest on November 2.

On April 20, the five-member Supreme Court bench gave its verdict in the case with the judgment split 3-2 in favour of a further probe against the premier’s family wealth. The other two judges had ruled that sufficient evidence was available for the prime minister to be de-seated.

The JIT – formed on May 6 – was given 60 days to complete its probe into the Sharif family’s international financial dealings and submit its report to the Supreme Court’s special implementation bench overseeing its proceedings.

The JIT team is headed by Federal Investigation Agency Additional Director Wajid Zia, and includes members from Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, SECP, State Bank of Pakistan and NAB.