ISLAMABAD: A three member Judicial Commission led by Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa in its findings into the alleged plot to kill Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Khawaja Mohammad Sharif has concluded in its 150 page secret report that the Chief of the Special Branch Punjab, Colonel Retired Ehsanur Rehman, and Director Special Branch Shahid Mahmood, with the help of two police constables, had hatched a conspiracy to produce a false and fabricated intelligence report in a bid to further their careers.
In a hard-hitting 150-page secret report, the Commission fixed the responsibility of the false report on the chief of the Special Branch Punjab, Colonel Retired Ehsanur Rehman, and Director Special Branch Shahid Mahmood. It also suggested disciplinary action against Dr Tauqir Shah, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and recommended that he should not be given any sensitive post in the future.
Terming the ‘plot’ to kill the CJ LHC a “remarkable tale”, the Commission said that it was authored by the four men who were not only “incorrigible liars” but also “men of little character and credibility.” The Commission has concluded that these four had enacted this charade and should be punished.
The Commission has also recommended to the government to immediately terminate the contract of Colonel Rehman who is now heading Civil Defence Punjab as he was found in serious breach of his duty and for having acted against the public interest. It also recommended that Rehman not be employed in any public position in the future.
The Commission was formed by the federal government on October 1, 2010, to verify the facts of a news report on the alleged plot. The commission comprised Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman (then of the Lahore High Court), Justice Imtiaz Ali (Peshawar High Court) and Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa as its chairman. After two months of deliberations, the commission submitted its report to the government.
Dr Shah in his statement also confessed before the three member commission that he had actually provided the copy of the intelligence report to an Islamabad based reporter of The News, who published it on September 11, 2010.
According to a copy of the Judicial Commission report with The Express Tribune, Secretary to Chief Minister Punjab, Dr Tauqir Shah had admitted that he had sent the “source report” to the Islamabad based journalist. The commission also received a computer CD through the post, which was stated to be a recording of the conversation that took place between the journalist and Dr Shah.
“We have no doubt that the voices on the said disk were those of the journalist and Dr Shah and confirm what was narrated by the two witnesses. Therefore, there remains no doubt in our minds that Dr Shah was the person who provided the information to the journalist which formed the basis of his report in his newspaper,” the report observed.
This is a second inquiry report into the alleged plot to kill the Chief Justice Khawaja Sharif. The first inquiry was conducted by Director FIA Zafar Ahmad Qureshi. This was submitted to the Chief Justice of Pakistan on November 5, 2010. The FIA inquiry’s 449 page report concluded that no such plot existed and it had dismissed the claim made in the news story.
On the issue of identity of the compiler of the report and whether the report could be considered true, the Judicial Commission said it was very strange for them to observe that according to DG Special Branch Colonel Rehman, the report was sent to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on August 2, 2010 and the covering envelope did not bear any date, number or signature. It was also not sent with a covering letter. The report lay unattended in the CM Punjab office for 32 days (August 2 to September 4) and was finally opened by an official in the presence of secretary Dr Shah.
It said that the source report sent by Colonel Rehman was typed in English and was a translation from an 5 page Urdu document titled “Ahem Report” (Important Report).
Pointing out contradictions in the statements of the concerned officials, the Judicial Commission said that Rehman told the Commission that the report was brought to him by his Director Shahid Mahmood. But Mahmood stated that the report was prepared by sub inspector Shakeel Hassan. However, SI Hassan denied either taking the report to Mahmood or being the originator of same.
Their statements recorded by the FIA, which was conducting a separate inquiry, were also shown to Rehman and Mahmood. Both officers had given in writing to the FIA in their initial statements that they did not know about any such report and it was never prepared by the Special Branch. But after five days, they gave fresh statements to the FIA in which they said they had written the said report. The Judicial Commission report observed that SI Hassan was the only man who throughout maintained that he never wrote any such report.
The Judicial Commission report said that upon this denial, both Colonel Rehman and Director Mahmood sought to introduce constables Ahmad and Azam and here began a “remarkable tale”.
The JCR said, both Rehman and Mahmood admitted before the Judicial Commission that they had lied to Director FIA Zafar Qureshi who was conducting an inquiry into the matter.
Quoting different statements of these four important characters of the Special Branch Punjab, the Judicial Commission observed that the narration of the same event greatly varied and the differences were neither minor nor could be explained away on account of fading memories. “They probably did not expect to be questioned about the manner of submission of the said report and as such did not match their respective stories,” the Commission observed.
According to Mahmood, he was not alone when the trio of Hassan, Constable Ejaz and Constable Azam came to him. He went out into the garden where Hassan informed him of the plot. But, according to constable Azam, Director Mahmood was informed about the plot in his office. Constable Ejaz contradicted both Mahmood and Azam as he said he was learnt of the plot for the first time when SI Hassan dictated the same to him.
They all also differed in their accounts of what happened when the same report was submitted. According to Mahmood, the trio were inside his office when the report was submitted and they stood in front of him when he read the entire report. But according to constable Ejaz, after reading the first page, Mahmood told him and constable Azam to leave the room, whereas as per constable Azam, neither he nor Ejaz entered the Director’s office.
The two admitted to being close friends and are referred to as a “pair” in the special branch. They were not particularly fond of sub inspector Hassan and constable Azam even referred him as a “kaam chor”. The Judicial Commission report comments “We do not subscribe to the view that they were the originators of the said report for the reasons that they work in the lower tiers of the Special Branch, had not done this kind of work before, had not served in the Sindh police and therefore could have not access to the information regarding the persons mentioned in the report who hailed from Sindh and in respect of matters pertaining to Sindh and finally, the conclusions and analysis put forward in the report required greater intellectual capacity.”
The Judicial Commission report said from the statements and testimonies of Rehman and Mahmood, constables Ejaz and Azam, all of them initially professed to have no knowledge about the said report and subsequently, both Colonel Rehman and Director Mahmood owned up to the report but attributed it to sub inspector Hassan and did not make any mention of constable Ejaz and Azam. However, after sub inspector Hassan denied knowledge of the report, constable Ejaz and Azam were introduced.
Constable Ejaz professed to have acted as SI Hassan’s stenographer while constable Azam as the one who copied the report. All of them admitted to lying and they repeatedly lied to persons in authority. The Judicial Commission report said after receiving the source report, strangely Director Mahmood did not pursue the matter further.
It said the source report among other things also stated that Chief Justice Khawaja, the then Chief Justice Lahore High Court, “comes on the last Friday of every month and holds a Milaad function from Asar to Magrib” at his ancestral house at Tape Road and that “ the criminals are expected to target Justice Khawaja then”. The report questioned that if as stated by Rehman and Mahmood that the report was prepared in early August 2010, the last Friday of the month would fall on August 27, therefore, it was imperative to apprehend the criminals before then. But the officers did absolutely nothing. When questioned, Mahmood in his statement said that “I did not follow up on the report, nor I asked about any follow up upon it”.
“We were also amazed to learn that there is no official file in the Special Branch regarding the subject. It also belies comprehension that neither the source report nor the report have been signed, dated, numbered nor states the name of the person who had prepared it. The source report thus only exists if Colonel Rehman or Director Mahmood wanted it to. A sensitive organization like the Special Branch cannot possibly be made to operate in this manner,” the Commission observed, adding it could not be understood why the same report was not shared with other departments given the fact that the head of provincial judiciary was the intended target.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2011.