ISLAMABAD: Expressing satisfaction over its progress so far, the Supreme Court has asked the joint investigation team (JIT) probing offshore financial interests of the ruling Sharif family to complete its work within the allotted 60 days.
“You must keep it in mind this fact that the entire exercise of investigation must be completed within 60 days,” said Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who is heading a three-judge special bench of the top court overseeing implementation of the Panamagate verdict of April 20.
In their majority judgment, the same three judges – Justice Ejaz, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan – had ordered the constitution of a six-member JIT to investigate the money trail of the Sharif family’s properties in London.
The JIT comprises one official each from the Federal Investigation Agency, National Accountability Bureau, State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.
All members of the JIT were present during the hearing on Monday amid tight security. PTI Chairman Imran Khan and General Secretary Jahangir Tareen were also present in the courtroom.
When the hearing started, Justice Sheikh asked the JIT members: “Where is the report?”
Wajid Zia, who is heading the JIT, submitted a parcel, which contained the classified progress report. A court official broke the seal of the parcel and each judge was provided with two sets of documents – one containing detailed documents and the other their summary.
Exchanging whispers, the judges took at least 12 minutes to go through the files.
“We are not dissatisfied with the investigation as you are heading in the right direction,” said Justice Sheikh. However, Justice Ejaz told the JIT head that the investigation must be completed within 60 days.
“You mean business, we mean business,” Justice Ejaz said. “If there is an impediment to the investigation, inform the court. If you face any obstacle, bring it to our notice,” he added.
Justice Sheikh also observed that they must inform the court if any department was not cooperating or dragging its feet, adding that “we know how to implement our order”. The judge, however, observed that so far no one had caused any hindrance.
The bench rejected a plea by the PTI to make the JIT’s progress report public. PTI’s spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry submitted before the bench that this was not their personal case and that the nation wanted to know what was going on.
However, Justice Ejaz asked him to refer any provision of the law on the basis of which they could share the progress report, adding that they would go by the law, and in the criminal law, investigation could not be shared. “We do not sell the law for popularity,” he observed.
Addressing the PTI counsel, Justice Sheikh said: “Be considerate. Do not compromise investigations for the benefit of the other side.”
Later, the bench asked the JIT officials to seal the progress report and submit it in the register office. The hearing of the case was adjourned for two weeks. However, the PTI’s legal team was reportedly not happy with the court’s decision not to share the progress report.
Meanwhile, sources told The Express Tribune that the Sharif family’s trusted legal aide and former attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) Salman Aslam Butt will visit Qatar in the first week of June to manage affairs related to the involvement of Qatari Prince Hamad bin Jassim in the case.
Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan’s Embassy in Qatar delivered to Jassim a sealed envelope, possibly bearing the JIT’s questionnaire. Forwarded through the Foreign Office, the JIT sent the envelope to the prince as during the Panamagate case hearing, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s legal team had present two letters from the prince in a bid to establish the money trail of the London properties owned by Sharifs.