ISLAMABAD: After Panama Papers’ joint investigation team (JIT), the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will have to face another JIT that has been formed by the apex court to probe into Sharif’s alleged role as Punjab chief minister in illegal transfer of an Auqaf land over 30 years back.
The three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, announced this on Thursday while hearing the case related to alleged illegal transfer of 14,394 kanals of Auqaf land in Punjab’s Pakpattan district in 1986.
The CJP noted that a three-member team will investigate the former premier’s role in the case. The JIT will be headed by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief Khaliq Dad Lak and include two officials each respectively from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB)
The bench asked Lak to submit within one week terms of reference (ToRs) of the investigation, adding that he shall also decide venue of the investigation. The decision to form a JIT is against Sharif’s desire. In an earlier hearing, the former PM had said his experience of the former JIT was not pleasant.
On Thursday, Sharif’s counsel, however, told the bench that the matter be probed by any forum which the court deemed fit. The CJP observed that there was a contradiction between Sharif’s statement and documents on record, adding that “Nawaz Sharif is taking a risk”.
The bench later adjourned the hearing till December 27 – a date by which an accountability court will have announced its verdicts in two corruption references filed against the former premier in light of the apex court’s Panama Papers verdict.
Former CJP Nasirul Mulk while hearing a land dispute case in 2015 had taken a suo motu notice of illegal allotment of a shrine’s land to individuals in violation of an order of the Lahore High Court (LHC).
In October, the top court directed Sharif to submit within two weeks a reply related to withdrawal of a notification No 3(4)-Auqaf/60 dated 17-12-1969, concerning the Auqaf property attached with the shrine of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar in 1986..
In response to the court’s order, Sharif, through his counsel Munawar Iqbal Dhuggal, filed a reply which said he did not recall having ever passed any such order as Punjab CM. The bench had termed Sharif’s reply as vague and asked him to come and explain why he had de-notified the 1969 notification.
Appearing before the court on December 4, Sharif completely denied that he had illegally transferred 14,398 acres of Auqaf land in Pakpattan to an individual during his tenure as chief minister.