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LAHORE: The PML-N camp which seems to have been losing its patience with the joint investigation team probing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his children for their alleged off-shore holdings, declared on Wednesday that it will seek an explanation for the inclusion of the ISI and MI members in the body, warning of launching an agitation against the JIT proceedings.

Visibly nervous, the PML-N leaders who looked satisfied with the formation of the JIT by Supreme Court over a month ago, now want its dissolution for different reasons.

“WhatsApp call (reportedly from Supreme Court registrar) for inclusion of two members (one from the State Bank and other from Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan), leak of Hussain Nawaz’s picture facing his interrogators, JIT members’ pressure tactics and question mark over the expertise of the two members of the JIT -- one each from ISI and MI ─ are the reasons enough for the PML-N to go for an agitation against it (JIT),” Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmed Khan told Dawn on Wednesday.

“As we already had challenged the inclusion of two members ─ Amer Aziz of SBP and Bilal Rasool of SECP ─ in the SC, we are going to seek an explanation that on what grounds the ISI and MI members have been made part of the JIT. We want to know their expertise,” Mr Khan said and added that the JIT had been constituted under 184 Civil Procedure Code, but it was exceeding its legal mandate.

Warns of agitation against the probe proceedings

“Under this law, the JIT can only hold an inquiry, but it is carrying out criminal investigation. Has any FIR been registered (against the Sharif family) that it (JIT) is carrying out a criminal investigation,” he asked.

Read more: A controversial investigation

“Our reservations against the JIT are well-founded and we may go for an agitation against it,” Malik Ahmed Khan warned.

Meanwhile, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah expressed similar views when he talked to reporters on Wednesday. “The Sharif family also has the choice of boycotting the JIT. The PML-N workers may come on the roads against the JIT if a decision in this regard is taken by the leadership. I will be the front runner of this campaign,” he said.

Questioning the impartiality of the JIT, the minister said: “The JIT is not conducting impartial investigation as it is pressurising the witnesses to elicit statements against the Sharif family”.

He also objected to duration of probe sessions, asking why the JIT members were interrogating the prime minister’s son, Hussain Nawaz, for long hours. “The JIT may ask questions for a couple of hours, but it is inappropriate that it interrogates a person (Husain) who is fasting for nine to 13 hours,” he said and reminded the JIT did not have the Supreme Court’s powers.

“We have strong reservations against the JIT and the SC should take notice of its working,” he said and clarified the PML-N’s objections were not targeted on the apex court.

More PML-N leaders from the ‘Shahbaz Sharif camp’ are joining the chorus against the JIT since their boss vented his anger publicly at it.

On Tuesday the chief minister put his weight behind his elder brother and his children when he spoke against “selective accountability” of the Sharif family and asked the SC to take action against “other looters” as well.

“The PML-N voice has got louder after the support of Shahbaz Sharif camp, since the Nawaz camp members have already been raising objections to the JIT working on a daily basis,” a PML-N leader from Punjab said, seeking anonymity.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2017