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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said on Wednesday that when two representatives of as many intelligence agencies — the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — were included in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe allegations made in the Panama Papers case, it was not done so for the first time.

In fact, the CJP continued, the same officers from the two intelligence agencies had earlier been included in another JIT constituted on the directives of then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. He was in all probablity referring to the body formed to probe a news report on a security meeting published in Dawn.

The chief justice made the observation during the hearing of a fake accounts case by a three-judge SC bench.

Former interior minister says JIT on Panamagate scam was formed under orders of a three-judge SC bench

It is worth noting that the body that probed the news report was an inquiry committee — as per the notification of the interior ministry issued on Nov 7, 2016 — and not a JIT .

At the last hearing on Monday, the apex court had hinted at appointing a high-powered JIT in the fake accounts case but without representation from the ISI or MI and said that maybe the members from these agencies had been included in the JIT to give a Tarka (spice) the to probe.

The observation had come when Federal Investigation Agency Director General Bashir Memon recalled that earlier the JIT in the Panamagate case was headed by FIA Additional Director Wajid Zia and included representatives from the State Bank of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Securities and Exchange Com­mission of Pakistan (SECP), MI and ISI.

On Wednesday also the chief justice observed that the court would take a decision on the constitution of the JIT in the fake accounts case after hearing arguments from the counsel for the accused on Aug 28.

Chaudhry Nisar’s response

Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar explained that the JIT on the Panamagate scam had been formed under the orders of a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court. Commenting on the remarks made by the chief justice, he recalled that inclusion of military officers in the JIT was part of that decision.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Chaudhry Nisar said that he and the interior ministry neither had any role in the formation of the JIT, nor had they been consulted in this regard.

The former minister said the Supreme Court registrar, under the verdict of the three-member bench, had himself sought three names one each from the FIA, SECP and NAB. He said the registrar himself had established contact with the MI and ISI, adding that no ministry or government functionary had been included in the entire process.

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018