JIT on Sharif’s murder fails to impress SC

Apex court asks investigators to make solid progress by June 13

Adeel Afzal May 10, 2023
PHOTO: Arshad Sharif/Facebook


The country’s top court has expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of investigation being carried out by a joint investigation team (JIT) into assassination of renowned journalist Arshad Sharif.

The court has noted that it will take alternative routes if the JIT fails to make solid progress by the next date of hearing—June 13.

A five-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday resumed suo motu proceedings started on December 6, 2022 in the wake of the brutal murder of the TV journalist in Kenya.

Sharif, a recipient of the Pride of Performance award who specialized in investigative journalism, was shot and killed by Kenyan police on Oct 23, 2022 in what was described as a case of mistaken identity.

Commenting on the progress report submitted by the JIT to the court, CJP Bandial said the JIT swings into action just a day before hearing of the case.

Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi asked if the JIT had collected any evidence so far. “We have serious reservations about the JIT’s pace of investigation. And we are serious in getting this case investigated.”

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan told the court that the JIT received a letter from the United Arab Emirates on April 11 and that it replied to the letter on April 29.

Sharif, who had left Pakistan for the UAE fearing an arrest, was allegedly asked by the UAE authorities to leave the Gulf state, according to some reports. He had later moved to Kenya where he was killed.

Read SC Registrar’s Office rejects JIT report on Arshad Sharif

Justice Naqvi noted that the JIT has shared 20 mobile phone numbers with Kenyan authorities and requested it to share WhatsApp records belonging to these numbers. “Where did the JIT get these numbers from?”

The AGP told the bench that the fact finding report—earlier compiled by a two-member team—had mentioned these numbers. “All these phone numbers belong to the people who were present at the crime scene [on October 23],” he said, adding that the JIT will leave for the UAE and Kenya on May 17.

When Justice Naqvi asked if the Kenyan authorities have the capacity to get WhatsApp data, the AGP replied he could not say anything in that regard.

Justice Naqvi also asked why the Kenyan authorities would share such records with the team as there is no agreement between the two countries for sharing of intelligence.

The judge said he had reservations about the seriousness of the government in probing the matter.

“Why the government had not issued permanent arrest warrants for two accused—Waqar and Khurram. Such warrants can be issued in a matter of minutes. Is the government in negotiation with someone over these warrants?” he asked.

The AGP said the government would seek red warrants after issuing permanent warrants for the accused. The matter has been referred to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), he said.

The CJP said the court does not need reports which do not make any headway.

“The two-member fact finding committee had collected a lot of evidence and testimonies. However, the JIT has failed to do much. The last hearing had taken place last week but the JIT met with the Kenyan high commissioner only yesterday. Why is the JIT’s work not progressing?” he asked.

He also asked why the members of the fact finding committee were not made part of the JIT. “We want a transparent and honest investigation into the murder,” the CJP added.


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