National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Saeed Ahmed has written to the Supreme Court alleging that some members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the prime minister's family had been mistreating him, DawnNews reported Saturday.
Ahmed's letter, addressed to the SC registrar, alleges that the behaviour of some JIT members towards him was "threatening and authoritative".
"I felt that during questioning I was insulted, threatened, subjected to undue pressure," the NBP president has alleged.
He has also complained about being made to wait before he appeared for his session with the JIT.
"I was at the Judicial Academy for 12 hours. The long wait during appearances and particularly the first five-hour wait was very unnerving," he complained.
Read more: How the Panamagate probe unfolded
"I do realise that I was there for a criminal investigation as a witness but it seems I was being punished as a condemned person," Ahmed added.
Who is Saeed Ahmed
Saeed Ahmed has been summoned by the JIT due to his involvement in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, which the JIT is examining as part of its probe into the Sharif family's murky business dealings abroad.
Ahmed's name had come into the national limelight when, after the Musharraf coup in 1998, current Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had declared him a "close friend" and claimed that Ahmed's accounts had been used to 'handle' the Sharif family's finances.
"The previously opened foreign currency accounts of Saeed Ahmed, one of the former directors of FHMC and a close friend of mine, and of Mussa Ghani, the nephew of my wife, were also used to deposit huge foreign currency funds provided by the Sharif family to offer them as collateral to obtain different and indirect credit lines," Dar had said in his confession in the Hudaibiya case.
However, Dar had later disowned his confessions and said his statement was taken under duress.
Currently, Ahmed is serving as the president and Chief Executive Officer of the state-run National Bank of Pakistan. He was appointed after the Ministry of Finance recommended his name, along with two others, for the post.
He has also worked on senior positions in various institutions, including the State Bank of Pakistan, where he last worked as a deputy governor.
PML-N's 'reservations' regarding the JIT
Earlier, the prime minister's elder son, Hussain Nawaz, had approached the SC raising objections against two members of the JIT. He had expressed apprehensions that the presence of these officers may affect the fairness and impartiality of the JIT and its findings.
The information minister, Marriyum Aurangzeb, had previously accused the same JIT members of misbehaving with Tariq Shafi, a cousin of the prime minister, and said that they had told Shafi not to appear before the JIT again. She alleged that the officials had told Shafi that he could face a jail term if he did not withdraw the affidavit he had submitted in the Panama Papers case.
Hussain alleged that the behaviour of the two members of the JIT had also been "abusive". However, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, who heads the three-judge special bench implementing the SC's verdict in the Panamagate case, had dismissed the accusation and ordered the JIT to continue with its proceedings and operate within its jurisdiction.
The criticism against the JIT's investigation took a new shape after a video of PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi circulated widely in media.
In the video, Hashmi could be heard saying: "Whoever has held [the prime minister's family to account] in the past, and whoever is holding them accountable now — open your ears and hear this: we will not let you go. You are in service today; tomorrow you will retire. We will make life in Pakistan difficult for your children and for your families."
As the Supreme Court took notice of his incendiary remarks, Hashmi was suspended from the party and told to resign from his Senate seat. He has since withdrawn his resignation.
Last Wednesday, nearly a month after the JIT's formation, the PML-N had also announced that it will seek an explanation for the inclusion of the ISI and MI members in the JIT and warned of agitating against the proceedings.
“The WhatsApp call [reportedly from the Supreme Court registrar] for the inclusion of two members [one from the State Bank and the other from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan], the leak of Hussain Nawaz’s picture facing his interrogators, JIT members’ pressure tactics and the question mark over the expertise of the two members of the JIT — one each from the ISI and MI — are reasons enough for the PML-N to go for agitation against it [the JIT],” Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmed Khan had told Dawn.
Subsequently, on Thursday, Prime Minister's Special Assistant Asif Kirmani had additionally accused the JIT of 'sensationalising' the Panama Papers investigation.
JIT discusses threats to its members
On the other hand, the JIT has held its 33rd session with the Federal Investigation Authority's Additional Director General Wajid Zia in the chair to deliberate on the statements provided by the prime minister's sons Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz.
The meeting, held at the Federal Judicial Academy, where the JIT has set up its secretariat, reportedly also discussed the threats being received by the JIT members.
The JIT on Wednesday told the SC that it was facing a number of impediments in its probe into allegations of money-laundering and financial irregularities by the Sharif family, stemming from the Panama Papers.
The bench asked Zia to submit an application to the court in this regard, since there was no secrecy involved. These apprehensions will be taken up in the open court on Monday.