Pakistan

LAHORE – The embattled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif might be facing interrogation in the Model Town killing case as the respective Joint Investigation Team has been allowed to quiz the politician.

An accountability court in Islamabad granted JIT the permission to probe the former premier in Kot Lakhpat jail for his role in infamous Model Town incident of 2014.

Mohammad Iqbal, a deputy superintendent of Punjab police (DSP), had filed an application before accountability judge Justice Mohammad Arshad Malik seeking his permission to interrogate Sharif in Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Arshad Malik had convicted the politician in the Al-Azizia reference last year, handing Sharif seven-year jail sentence so his go-ahead was necessary.

During the hearing on Thursday, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor Mirza Usman opposed the JIT’s application, suggesting that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) should be approached for such permission.

Following brief arguments, Justice Malik dismissed NAB’s objection and allowed DSP Iqbal to interrogate Sharif.

Supreme Court sets date for hearing of Nawaz Sharif’s bail plea

Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister of the country when the Model Town incident happened, though his brother Shehbaz was serving as the Chief Minister Punjab.

The ex-premier was sent to seven years behind bars in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference by the accountability court in Islamabad in December last year.

Nawaz Sharif was also convicted in the Avenfiled reference by the accountability court judge Muhammad Bashir, however, he was granted bail by the Islamabad High Court.

Sharif’s plea for bail on medical grounds in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference conviction was turned down by the Islamabad High Court following which moved the Supreme Court and requested an early hearing of the case.

The three-time prime minister has been relocated between Kot Lakhpat Jail and hospital multiple times on the recommendation of the medical board.

Model Town incident

At least 14 people were killed while 100 others were left wounded in police action against Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers in Lahore’s Model Town area during an ‘anti-encroachment operation’ on June 17, 2014.

A judicial inquiry report on the incident hinted at the involvement of top government official, however, it did not pin blame on any specified individual.

The commission observed: “The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participated in the operation or not, did utter a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers.”

AD Khawaja to head new JIT to probe Model Town tragedy

Rana Sanaullah, then law minister Punjab, referred to the report as “defective”.

In Jan 2019, the Punjab government had reconstituted a new five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the 2014 Model Town incident.

The fresh JIT is being headed by A.D Khawaja who has served at top positions including the IGP of Sindh.