A report submitted by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to the joint investigation team probing the rape and murder of Zainab Amin has found that the prime suspect in the case did not maintain any bank accounts unlike previously alleged by a TV anchor, DawnNews reported on Friday.
Sources in the FIA said the agency's own investigation had also not found any bank accounts belonging to the suspect.
Later in the evening, SBP spokesperson said that the bank had been asked to investigate the number of bank accounts opened against another National Identity Card (CNIC) of the suspect. The investigation revealed that no bank accounts had been opened against the second CNIC either, the spokesman said.
It was unclear how the suspect was able to hold two separate CNICs.
In a press conference late Friday afternoon, Punjab government Spokesperson Malik Ahmed Khan also confirmed that the SBP had sent the letter confirming that the suspect had no bank accounts in any commercial banks in Pakistan.
"This officially confirms that Dr Shahid Masood concocted a baseless story which we have failed to understand the reason behind, without thinking of its consequences," he said, adding that the story about the suspect's bank accounts had threatened to derail investigations.
"We have asked Dr Shahid Masood to appear before the JIT twice but he has failed to appear," Khan said.
The hearing of the Supreme Court's suo moto notice on the matter has also been re-scheduled for Sunday. A notification requiring the Punjab additional advocate general, police officials, Dr Shahid Masood and others to appear in the court's Lahore registry was issued today. The hearing had earlier been set for Monday.
Earlier on Friday, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal too had said that the SC and media had been caught up in a "make-believe" story on the Kasur case propagated by the anchor and aimed at defaming the government.
He said that the latest example of how social media is a "tool for fifth generation warfare" came about following the arrest of Zainab's murderer when the Punjab government was being praised. "Suddenly a make-believe spin was thrown in which the media and the Supreme Court got caught up in."
"This proves how big of a tool of chaos and disruption social media is," the minister said, adding that "it later turned out that the news run by an anchor, on which the Supreme Court also took notice, was entirely make-believe."
He warned that numerous such 'attacks' on the government "could be expected as it was election year."
"Make-believe, fictitious and false news stories will be spread by foreign agencies via social media," he added.
The Government of Punjab also said that the anchor did not appear before the JIT to share information about his claims.
"Despite written notice, Dr Shahid Masood didn't appear before the JIT formed by Punjab government to share the proof of information he claimed about bank accounts allegedly held by the accused in Zainab case. His contact numbers are switched off and we couldn't connect," a tweet by the provincial government said.
The anchorperson, however, appeared at a show on the Express News where he said that investigation was not his responsibility and it was the job of state institutions to find the authenticity of the news.
“I did not provide this information with any wrong intent,” he said.
Dr Shahid Masood had, in a programme aired by TV channel NewsOne, claimed that the suspect maintained over 37 bank accounts, mostly foreign currency denominated, with transactions in dollars, euros and pounds sterling. He had repeated the allegations in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The story was given a new twist on Thursday, when Masood handed over to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar two names written on a folded paper of people who, he claimed, were behind an international racket running a child pornography ring.
Later, while talking to journalists, he claimed that one of them was a sitting federal minister but kept the name secret, saying the disclosure might endanger the life of the suspected killer of the Kasur girl who was arrested on Tuesday.
In his programme, the Dr Masood had requested the chief justice, the prime minister and the army chief to take notice of these facts, claiming that the rapist was neither a psychic, deranged or an insane person nor a simpleton.
The Supreme Court is already seized with a suo motu case about Zainab’s rape and murder.
Case registered against two police officials for leaking suspect's confession
After a video of Zainab's suspected killer confessing his crimes began circulating on social media, a Punjab police official on Friday registered a case against two of his subordinates for the video leak.
The video was allegedly recorded while the suspect was being held at the CIA Model Town police station.
The first information report (FIR) was registered against police registrar Shafique and Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Muhammad Akram on complaint of DSP Model Town Malik Dawood.
With additional reporting by Talqeen Zubairi.