ISLAMABAD: The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is in control of secretarial and administrative affairs of the Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as it is not acting on its own but on the direction of the Supreme Court (SC), the JIT sources confirmed to The News.
On being approached, the registrar of the Supreme Court didn’t respond to written questions from The News. However, when The News contacted Justice Ejaz Afzal, the head of the Implementation Bench, and asked him about allowing the JIT to take secretarial support mainly from the ISI, he did not comment but said if anyone was aggrieved, he should approach him in the court. “I only speak through my judgments or in the court and never discuss any issue in private,” Justice Ejaz Afzal added.
However, the JIT sources and officials of the Ministry of Defence confirmed to The News that on the first day of the JIT’s working, it was decided with consensus among all the JIT members that security of information would be the most significant thing to be ensured during the working of the team.
“If each and everything being discussed in JIT, or the questions being asked to the witnesses, are leaked, the whole process will become scandalous. As it will be a huge exercise and if many people from departments of all JIT members will be made part of the JIT Secretariat, no information will remain safe,” the JIT members discussed during the first meeting, according to the JIT sources.
There was a consensus in the meeting, according to the JIT sources, that instead of taking big number of human resource from all departments, the secretarial support should be mainly taken from one department, the ISI, and approval of the Supreme Court should be sought for this purpose. It was agreed that majority of administrative affairs would be dealt with by the ISI. Moreover, the security of the premises of JIT Secretariat (in the National Judicial Academy, Islamabad) and security of the members was also a crucial issue.
It was also agreed that security of the premises of the JIT Secretariat and that of the JIT members would also be handled by the ISI.
The members agreed that the issue would be put before the judges of the Implementation Bench for their approval. The JIT sources said that the consensus of JIT members regarding taking secretarial support mainly from the ISI was approved by the judges of the Implementation Bench.
In its May 5, 2017 order, the Implementation Bench of the Supreme Court while constituting the six-member JIT ordered, “The head and members of the JIT shall arrange secretarial staff of their choice from their respective departments. The JIT would also be at liberty to utilise the expertise available in their departments and any other department of the federal or provincial governments as and when required by it.” As this order was talking about taking secretarial support from all the departments of respective JIT members, so in the light of proposal of its first meeting, the JIT approached the Implementation Bench for approval. The Implementation Bench approved the proposal of taking help from the ISI for handling administrative affairs and security related issues and provision of secretarial support, mainly from the elite intelligence agency.
Therefore, media monitoring, assistance on the legal side and help on other administrative and security related issues was provided by the ISI to the JIT. As media was not informed by the Supreme Court regarding this approval, the JIT working was criticised on the points which were out of its domain. The JIT sources said that documentation and drafting was the responsibility of Irfan Naeem Mangi of NAB and financial analysis was being done by Amir Aziz of State Bank of Pakistan.
When a huge exercise is being carried out on a very large scale, like in case of governments, big organisations, etc, the whole work is divided into many sections like record keeping, management, administration, security, finance, human resource, documentations, public relations, technical, IT, etc. All these wings or sections add up to form a secretariat and by secretarial support we mean providing assistance to an organisation or a body in all these fields.