By Gul Bukhari
JAJ might have been far more appropriate a synonym for the JIT constituted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan to investigate the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family. Because from its constitution, to its workings, to its interim reports, the JIT appears more to be Just A Joke than a Joint Investigation Team. The entire saga of this wretched ‘body’ has made it entirely non credible by now.
First came the Whatsapp saga whereby the Registrar of the Supreme Court made strange, covert calls to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to dictate the selection of their employees in the JIT. The world over, it is a norm to request the appropriate employee from an institution which is nominated by the head of that institution. The norm was violated, with no explanation as to why. Secondly, the fishy manner it was done in, made the selection of those particular persons for the JIT suspect in the eyes of many from day one. Even if norms were to be broken, even if the earlier order of the five judge bench that had ordered the formulation of a JIT were to be violated, it should have been done in a transparent matter and in writing, giving reasons for requesting particular persons. The SECP documented the bizarre nature of the exchange, but has not received any explanation.
The Prime Minister’s son objected to the inclusion of the two persons in the JIT giving solid reasons as to why they might not be unbiased: Amir Aziz of SBP having been the National Accountability Bureau investigator who had prosecuted the Hudaibia Paper Mills case against the Sharifs in the late 1990s; and Bilal Rasool of the SECP, who is Mian Azhar’s nephew, whose wife was in PMLQ and who currently passionately supports the PTI together with his wife. Neither were these members changed, nor reasonable justifications provided to Husain Nawaz as to why only these two employees from their vast institutions absolutely had to sit on the JIT, denying justice seen to be done.
Next, the JIT has reportedly behaved entirely unprofessionally, possibly criminally with at least three persons they interrogated: Javed Kiyani, who had been detained and investigated for a whole year during the original Hudaibia case, and was eventually acquitted honourably, was reportedly summoned at least three times by the JIT and told to become approver against the Sharif family. He reportedly showed his acquittal file and told it he had no reason to become approver. He refused despite immense pressure from the JIT.
Saeed Ahmed, also tangled in the original Hudaibia case, was allegedly presented with a pre-prepared statement incriminating the Sharifs and told to sign it by the JIT, and repeatedly pressurized to do so. Apparently, he was detained by the JIT from morning till after taraveeh (11.30 pm) and asked intermittently to sign the statement. He too withstood the pressure and was eventually let go.
Meanwhile Tariq Shafi was allegedly threatened with 16 years behind bars if he didn’t take back the affidavit he provided to the JIT. One would assume the affidavit was favourable to the Sharifs’ version of the money trail.
These acts have put grave question marks around the behaviour and credibility of the JIT. These are not acts of investigation, but acts of intimidation and criminal behaviour. A JIT is not authorized to use strong arm tactics to obtain results of its satisfaction, but has to go with findings obtained via professional and non-partisan processes and attitude. When it becomes clear that a body has a specific aim or result in mind, and is trying to satisfy those aims by hook or by crook, it loses the very justification for its existence together with all credibility. This the JIT has accomplished quite well with these acts.
As if all this were not enough, it provided an astonishing interim report to the implementation bench on June 7, with about a hundred pages dedicated to their own complaints against mainstream media anchors/ commentators and against social media users, saying peoples comments on the JIT were hampering their work. The hundreds of pages of samples of twitter comments of various people, or translations of TV anchors’ comments they had included was staggering and perplexing. With only two to three weeks time left before they were to submit their final findings, this was what they had been researching and monitoring and spending human and financial resources on? Not only that, their brief was trying to find answers to thirteen questions, not monitoring the social or mainstream media or threatening witnesses with dire consequences unless they complied. But the act of going crying to the implementation bench with moronic complaints against the public in general was unbelievable. Not only did it earn the JIT anger of the public, but also its contempt and mirth. Twitter at least exploded with memes, with one being ‘rondu’ (crybaby).
This JIT is also on record as having accused the SECP of forging or tampering with data, without any proof whatsoever. The SECP has provided detailed reply with proofs that it did nothing of the sort. However, so far the JIT has not faced any consequences for any of these bizarre acts, including the one of illegal surveillance of the Prime Minister house that it has admitted to in the second interim report.
The million dollar question here is this: why is the farce of this JIT still ongoing when it has so thoroughly discredited itself, and who can be expected to take its findings seriously after all that has gone on? No one in their right mind can now be expected to rely on any findings of this body.