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September 16, 2018

Three important cases, three different approaches


September 16, 2018

ISLAMABAD: On July 5 this year, Shoaib Sheikh was handed 7-year sentence in Axact fake degree scandal, just a day before Mian Nawaz Sharif was convicted in Avenfield Apartment reference along with his daughter and son-in-law.

The law enforcement agencies sprang into action the same day for the arrest of Capt. (R) Safdar who surrendered within 24 hours whereas Nawaz Sharif and Maryam did so on return from London a week after leaving behind Kulsoom Nawaz on ventilator who has now passed away. They have been in jail since then.

However, Shoaib Sheikh, is still at large even after the passage of 70 days and no effort has been made to arrest him. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which was prosecutor in this case and had been directed to comply with the court order regarding his arrest, is conspicuously silent on this issue and thus appears complicit.

A senior FIA official went on to claim that the agency has not received the order. This is in contrast with what has been described in the written order that it was handed over to the FIA’s investigation officer, Gohar, the same day. “Therefore, their bails and surety bonds are cancelled and non-bailable perpetual warrant of arrest alongwith separate conviction warrant addressed to Superintendent, Adyala Jail Rawalpindi are hereby handed over to Mr. Gohar Ali S.I./I.O. for the arrest of convicts,” reads the last para of the verdict.

When asked if any attempt has been made to arrest him, the senior official said the impression has been created as if Shoaib is abroad, a rumor the FIA itself isn’t ready to buy. Instead, it believes he is in Pakistan as his departure would have been recorded with the immigration which is also the FIA’s subject. Whether any property has been confiscated in order to force him into surrender? No such step has been taken by the FIA which is least interested in nabbing him.

While SSP Rao Anwar who didn’t surrender despite raids by the police and surrendered only after the assurance from the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the FIA is hesitant to go after Shoaib which is a sixty-four thousand dollar question.

Shoaib was convicted together with 22 others accomplice in this fake degree scandal. None was present at the time of verdict. He was on bail and exempted from the appearance in contrast with Nawaz Sharif case who was not only denied exemption over 100 times during the trial, he was directed to ensure his presence at the time of the verdict.

As Shoaib and other convicts lodged an appeal with Islamabad High Court against the district and session court’s decision, Justice Athar Minallah refused to entertain it until their arrests, a pre-condition. In response, around four convicts in this fake degree case submitted an application saying they were ready to surrender but the FIA wasn’t interested.

“Petitioners filed an appeal and on the direction of the court, present petitioners put their appearance on 10.07.2018, but the hon’ble court observed that all the accused should surrender before the law enforcement agencies i.e. FIA, since then petitioners are trying to contact the FIA authorities i.e. Investigation Officer but they are failed to contact the IO who has been entrusted with warrants,” reads the application filed on behalf of four convicts.

It further reads: “That petitioners sent application to DG FIA through courier service but in vain,” it further reads indicating they are ready to surrender but the FIA isn’t keen to do this. An FIA official told The News they were not interested in making arrests of others unless Shoaib surrenders.

The movers of this application are Haseeb Ahmed, Muhammad Amjad, SA Sheikh and Daniel Vincit. Intriguingly, the names of others of all the applicants have been mentioned except SA Sheikh and there is no convict by the surname of Sheikh other than Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh. Whether it is an attempt to hoodwink the court or the incomplete details have been mentioned just by mistake remains a mystery.

The application has been filed by two lawyers: Naila Noreen and Raaz Ali Shah. They are associates of Rizwan Abbasi advocate, lead counsel of Axact in this case. The News contacted with Raaz for comments. He admitted filing this application wherein claim has been made that FIA is not responding to their requests regarding arrests. Asked if SA Sheikh is Shoaib Ahmed Sheikh, he said he can’t recall but all the applicants are BOL Axact employees. When insisted that there is no Sheikh among convicts other than Shoaib so if this was him, he said he can’t recall offhand.

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