The federal government on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that a joint investigation team (JIT) had been formed to probe into the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya.
The special JIT is led by Islamabad Police DIG Headquarters Awais Ahmed and has four other members — namely Muhammad Aslam from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Murtaza Afzal from the Military Intelligence (MI), Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Waqaruddin Syed, and Sajid Kayani of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
A five-judge bench of the SC, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, also instructed the JIT to submit a progress report before the next date of the hearing.
Earlier this week, the CJP had taken suo motu notice of the journalist’s murder.
Also read: SC directs to form JIT in Arshad Sharif murder case
CJP Bandial noted that the apex court wanted an honest and impartial investigation.
He hoped that progress would be made in different areas of the probe.
The bench observed that in case the JIT faced any administrative difficulty, it might approach the office of the CJP for its resolution.
Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman told the court that the government would fully fund the JIT.
Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, however, pointed out that no timeline was being given to the JIT for the completion of the task.
The apex court then adjourned the hearing till the first week of January.
The foreign affairs ministry, in its reply submitted to the apex court during the case’s hearing, stated that it was considering bringing the primary suspects in the Arshad murder case back to Pakistan.
The SC had directed the ministry to consider recourse to friendly governments in the region of Africa as well as international organisations including the UN for facilitating the investigation and submit its report to the court.
In its response in the form of report, the ministry told the court that it was concurrently evaluating avenues which might be explored with international organisations that could advance the process of investigation in the murder case.
The ministry also said in its report that Pakistan was committed towards maintaining friendly and cordial relations with Kenya as well as the UAE.
Therefore, several options were being considered including sending a special envoy to Kenya to raise this matter with the relevant local authorities.
The other options included arranging a telephone call between the foreign minister and his Kenyan counterpart to follow up on the discussions between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the latter’s president and directing the high commissioner of Pakistan in Nairobi to maintain efforts with senior officials there to help expedite the matter.
Among the options, as per the report, was engaging regularly with the high commissioner of Kenya in Islamabad.
Also read: FIR of journalist’s killing registered on SC orders
The report stated that the ministry of foreign affairs was also of the view that the competent authorities in Pakistan might also explore legal avenues for gathering evidence and completing the process of investigation in Kenya and the UAE, including but not limited to the options of sending requests for mutual legal assistance (MLA) with the possibility of sending extradition requests for the suspects in the murder case.
The ministry further submitted that because of its efforts and those of the Pakistani Mission in Dubai, the latter had sent a request for legal assistance from the authorities concerned in the country.
It added that the request had already been dispatched to the interior ministry to prepare a document seeking legal assistance.
The report further read that the foreign affairs ministry was committed towards assisting the court and facilitating the JIT formed by the government for “expeditiously meeting the ends of justice”.
The report added that the foreign affairs ministry as well as Pakistani Missions in Nairobi and Dubai were corresponding frequently with the Kenyan and Emirati authorities for facilitating and furthering the process of investigation and gathering of evidence in the case.
The ministry informed the court that the current bilateral approach was most likely to yield results.
“It was also assured by the high commissioner of Kenya in Islamabad that the relevant authorities [in his country] are in the process of gathering evidence and [the] investigation is ongoing, and the outcome of [these] processes shall be shared as soon as [they] are finalised,” the report read.
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