In application submitted to Supreme Court, investigators claim government is hampering their efforts to conduct impartial probe
The Supreme Court appointed joint investigation team probing alleged money laundering by Nawaz Sharif’s family last week submitted an application highlighting the difficulties is facing in carrying out its inquiry.
The application, which has been widely disseminated on local media, specifically complains about the conduct of the Law Ministry, the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Board of Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the Intelligence Bureau. In it, the six-member investigative body claims the ruling PMLN is utilizing government machinery to hamper the ongoing investigation. “…Unless and until coercive orders are passed the situation would not be salvaged. Also that the vilification campaign has put the lives of JIT members and families in perpetual danger,” says the application, submitted by JIT head Wajid Zia.
According to the application, SECP Chairman Zafar-ul-Haq Hijazi was responsible for backdating the closure of a money laundering investigation against Chaudhry Sugar Mills Limited. “The act of backdated closure of investigation apart from being patently mala fide is also a criminal act with a view to facilitate the respondents against whom the present investigation is being conducted,” it says, adding that Hijazi had also prevented the JIT from collecting the full record of companies owned by the Sharif family. It claims the SECP’s executive director, who had also been nominated as its JIT member before being replaced at the Supreme Court’s behest, implemented the organization chairman’s orders.
The JIT application also accuses IB, which operates under the control of the federal government, of hacking the Facebook account of one of the investigators and harassing the family of another one.
The JIT has alleged that NAB is also working to undermine its efforts, adding that the bureau on April 25 issued a show-cause notice to Irfan Naeem Mangi, one of the investigators, over his induction into the department in 2004. According to the application, Mangi’s request for a deferral owing to his involvement in the JIT, was dismissed and NAB told him it would act against him if he did not submit a reply within 15 days.
The investigation team’s application has also blamed the law ministry for delaying its responses to the JIT’s queries, alleging the ‘go-slow’ approach illustrated how “the government machinery is being employed so as to attempt to frustrate the JIT and its proceedings.” It claims the PMLN is ‘tutoring’ witnesses to ensure their statements match that of the Sharif family, alleging this is also hampering the investigation.
The application claims the JIT’s statements are purposely being to the media to scandalize the investigation and has urged the Supreme Court to take action against anyone who publically comments to the media about the JIT or the court’s proceedings. As part of this, it has submitted a media monitoring report that questions social media commentary and TV broadcasts from prominent journalists and anchorpersons.