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July 18, 2017

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PM’s full-scale legal attack on JIT in SC

PM’s full-scale legal attack on JIT in SC

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif launched a full-scale legal attack on the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) stressing that its report presented to the Supreme Court was an eyewash and was undertaken with a predisposed mind to malign and implicate him in some wrongdoing.

Except the representative of the Military Intelligence in the JIT, the premier, in his rejection of the team, assailed the credibility and standing of its other five members, painting them as biased, partisan and affiliated with his political rivals.

It is submitted with respect that one of the more aggressive members of the JIT (Brig Nauman Saeed), whose depiction was given in one of the earlier applications (CMA No.3688 of 2017 submitted before the bench), was subsequently identified to be the ISI nominee,identified to be the ISI nominee, Nawaz Sharif’s response said.

It said that it has further been revealed that the ISI nominee was not its officer at the time of his nomination, rather he was a ‘source employee’ under a contract which is not recognized as legal, and reportedly neither his association with the spy agency nor his pay is reflected in any official record.

Meanwhile, the two latest prayers made by Nawaz Sharif – absolute rejection of the JIT findings and release of Volume-X – were not taken up on the first day of the attention-grabbing proceedings. The petitioners’ lawyers completed their preliminary arguments on the JIT report and the premier’s counsel Khawaja Haris opened his submissions. The pace thus observed gave the impression as if the case may not take too long to conclude.

The prime minister also pointed out the charges against JIT members – Bilal Rasool and Amer Aziz – for being prejudiced against him. The Sharif family has already highlighted these claims against them.

Inside the courtroom, Justice Ejaz Afzal asked: Without knowing what the sources are, can we say that the documents are accurate? He said that it would have to be verified whether the documents procured from abroad were transferred to Pakistan through legal means. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) attorney Naeem Bokhari said it was for the JIT to reply this question. He sought summoning of the prime minister and his family members for cross-examination.

However, not only Bokhari, but the Jamaat-e-Islami lawyer and Sheikh Rashid completely owned the JIT report because it incorporated all of their accusations and allegations against the Sharif family. They were tremendously facilitated as they were not required to give any new argument but spoke on what the JIT has held. They repeated what has been written in its findings. However, the bench made it clear that it was not binding on the judges to accept the JIT report and pointed out that some of the documents that have been relied upon in the report were not authenticated and certified.

In his rejection application, Nawaz Sharif said the hiring of UK based litigation firm Quist London, a company admittedly belonging to one Akhtar Raja, a cousin of JIT head Wajid Zia, whose owner is also reportedly a worker of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) London, is illegal and unsupported by law and does not qualify as permissible in terms of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) under Section 21(g) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO), 1999.

Justice Ejaz Afzal remarked that if need be the Volume-X of the JIT report, incorporating MLA requests, can be made public so that everything was transparent. Nawaz Sharif demanded release of the volume.

Another ground of rejection of the JIT report, according to the premier, was that the respondents were never shown any documents during the recording of their statements and, thus, none of them was confronted with or called upon to explain their position vis-à-vis any of these papers. It is thus evident that the entire investigation was a farce.

The JIT members, the prime minister wrote, exceeded their jurisdiction and authority conferred by law in obtaining documents from abroad, inter alia, by hiring private firms, and thereby wasted public time and money in rendering an incomplete, inconclusive and legally untenable and inherently defective report.

The JIT overstepped its jurisdiction in giving a detailed finding on each of the 13 questions (+2 non-existent queries claimed by the JIT to have been) referred to it by the April 20 Order of the Court, in that as an investigation body, and as per the terms of the court order, it was appointed only to collect evidence on each of the questions referred, and  not to pronounce a judgment or prepare findings on the basis of the evidence so collected, the latter being the prerogative of the court as it constituted a judicial function.

Nawaz Sharif said that the MLA requests were to be addressed to a foreign state and not to private firms or entities, and such evidence and documents alone are inadmissible in evidence under Section 21(g) of the NAO (this provision having been specifically quoted by the JIT) as are transferred to Pakistan by a foreign government, and not that which are procured from or delivered by private firms.

He believed that not only the bulk of the documents relied upon by the JIT especially from foreign jurisdictions, have been illegally procured, none of them bears the attestation in accordance with the law nor are any of them is original, and most of them do not bear the signatures of any executant or scribe, while no statement of any witness who scribed, executed or witnessed any of these papers has been recorded by the JIT.

The premier said that in any case the JIT had been given 60 days for completing their investigation, and they having availed an extra 6 days on this account, and having represented before the court on July 10 that they are submitting a complete report, they cannot now be allowed to place any further document on the record.

The JIT report is reflective of the ingrained bias and prejudice of its members towards and against the prime minister, he said.

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