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June 19, 2017

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State institutions give firm response to JIT allegations

State institutions give firm response to JIT allegations

ISLAMABAD: Instead of going overboard in their rejoinders, at least four key State institutions and organizations have come out with measured but firm and categorical responses to harsh allegations leveled by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) against them.

The Prime Minister’s House, Intelligence Bureau (IB), Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) have submitted to the Supreme Court their replies to the JIT’s claims in which it asserted that their certain actions have impeded the investigation.

The Prime Minister’s House noted in its rejoinder that telephones of witnesses have been tapped and denied the allegations of tutoring them or other persons being summoned by the JIT. It contradicted the leak of JIT summon for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s appearance and said it may have been publicly released by the JIT or its staff. It held that in any way, such summon is a matter of public knowledge and does not in any manner hamper the investigations as alleged.

IB Director General Aftab Sultan did not hide behind the traditional veil of secrecy and pretext of national interest as the spy agencies generally do but made it clear that the lowdowns of the JIT members were prepared by his outfit as per the standard practice applicable to the cases of high profile nature including Panama having serious repercussions on political fabric of Pakistan. However, he was concerned over the leak of the preparation of lowdowns by the IB.

As a regular practice, the IB collects the lowdown, maintained for ready reference, on the government personnel and other subjects of interest working on important positions, the spymaster told the apex court in his two-page letter.

The JIT had accused the IB of harassing its member Bilal Rasool and his family. Aftab Sultan denied infringing upon privacy or harassing any JIT member or the members or their families and allegations of hacking of facebook of Bilal Rasool or his family.

The JIT had subjected the SECP to the most serious allegation of tampering the record and blamed its Chairman Zafarul Haq Hijazi for closing the investigation into a money-laundering case against Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited of the Sharif family. The SECP chief strongly refuted it.

The JIT claimed that the SECP chairman attempted to drag the registrar in the WhatsApp controversy. It stated that the registrar had acted of his own volition and that the JIT had no role in the matter. In response to the JIT’s allegation, the SECP chairman refuted these assertions dubbing them as highly disappointing and said only a thorough inquiry into the WhatsApp call controversy can reveal facts.

On June 1, the Supreme Court clarified that its registrar had made a call on its behalf, asking him to issue a directive for securing names from relevant departments. Hijazi insisted that he was not yet sure whether the caller was the registrar or someone else. In the absence of any inquiry, the JIT’s allegations that somehow the SECP chairman was attempting to drag the registrar into the controversy is a matter for the notice by the court, he said adding that even today, he did not know whether the caller was actually the registrar or someone else.

The NAB has also made it clear that the show cause notice issued to JIT member Irfan Nadeem Mangi was not meant to harass him as claimed by the team, but it was strictly in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment under which several NAB officers have been discharged. Now, Mangi has requested the NAB to either withdraw the notice or keep it in abeyance till the completion of the JIT investigation.

Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali has noted in his reply that the JIT apparently is utilizing most of its time and energy on monitoring social and print media as there are no solid proofs to support the allegations.

The three-member special implementation bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan takes up the replies of these organizations on Monday. Three days later on June 22, it will receive the third fortnightly report from the JIT, leaving just two weeks for the team to complete its assignment within the original timeline of sixty days. On the following day, the panel will resume hearing on the contempt notice to former ruling party leader Nihal Hashmi.

 

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