ISLAMABAD: A specially appointed Joint Investigation Team (JIT), in its report to the Supreme Court, has held that Science and Technology Minister Azam Swati is guilty of misusing his office to humiliate poor neighbours, including women.
The concluding part of the damning report was read out by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar himself in the open court on Thursday. He was heading a three-judge bench that had taken up the case about the sudden transfer of Islamabad Inspector General (IG) Jan Mohammad in the wake of conflicting reports about a dispute between Mr Swati and the IG. The dispute arose after the government removed the IG and surrendered his services to the Establishment Division.
Earlier, the apex court had appointed the three-member JIT after the IG, a BS-20 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, was transferred against the backdrop of Mr Swati’s complaint to the IG alleging that his family and servants were getting severe threats from neighbouring Niaz Muhammad’s family who were “illegal settlers from Bajaur”.
Subsequently on Oct 26, Usman Swati — the son of Azam Swati — lodged a complaint at Shahzad Town police station, accusing the Niaz family of attacking his servant with batons and an axe.
SC wants minister recalled from PAEC delegation visiting Vienna; CJP hints at initiating proceedings under Article 62(1)(f)
The JIT was formed by the court and comprised Director General of the National Accountability Bureau Irfan Naeem Mangi, Deputy Director General of the Intelligence Bureau Ahmed Rizwan and Director of the Federal Investigation Agency Mirvais Niaz.
After reading out the report, the chief justice asked senior lawyer Ali Zafar, who was representing Mr Swati, to respond to the report and explain why proceedings under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution — a provision under which a member of parliament gets disqualified for life — should not be initiated against his client. The court also dropped hints of framing charges against the minister under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution but later on the insistence allowed the counsel to come out with a rejoinder on the JIT report by Tuesday.
When Mr Zafar sought time to file a proper reply saying the minister was leading a Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission delegation to Vienna (Austria), Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan asked the lawyer to take instructions (from his client) since the JIT had levelled very serious allegations.
The chief justice, however, observed that the minister should be recalled from the delegation since after the report the representation of Pakistan in Vienna had “become hazy”.
The court also summoned Mr Niaz and asked him why he entered into a compromise with the minister when the court was fighting for the honour of his “wife and daughter, who were sent behind bars allegedly on the orders of the minister”.
The JIT report stated that after considering the oral and documentary evidence available on record so far, the stated position of the Swati family and his servants regarding cow grazing, the cause of the dispute with the minister’s family, had no basis whatsoever and thus found to be false, concocted, fabricated, inconsistent and factually incorrect.
Moreover, “Azam Swati was given special treatment by the relevant authorities and by virtue of the post he holds, his influence prevailed upon the authorities”.
The JIT declared that “Azam Swati was directly involved in all actions in respect of harassing and punishing Niaz Muhammad and his family members”.
Minister of State for Interior Shahrayar Afridi also visited the farmhouse of Mr Swati along with the DIG operations and the SSP operations on the day of the incident, but did not meet the Niaz family to learn about the facts. Mr Afridi has admitted before the JIT that he was not given full facts of the case by Mr Swati, according to the report.
Referring to the “silence of the Islamabad police hierarchy” on the incident, the report said that the police, since the occurrence, did not hold the investigation “in just and fair manner”.
“One can safely conclude that the deliberate negligence of police officials in proceeding with the investigation, the police in fact colluded with the Swati family in furtherance to their designs.”
On reconciliation with the aggrieved party, the report said that on Oct 30, Usman Swati appeared before a judicial magistrate and recorded his statements to compromise with the Niaz family, saying he had no objection to their bail. Accordingly the members of the Niaz family were bailed out.
Niaz Muhammad told the JIT that when he was released from jail, a jirga comprising Gul Zafar, Gul Dad, Haroon, Gul Majeed, Siraj-ud-Din and other notables of the area came to his house and asked for the settlement.
Being Pakhtun he could not say ‘No’ to the elders of the jirga and pardoned the Swati family unconditionally,” Niaz Muhammad claimed.
Later the wife of Azam Swati came to his hone and “brought clothes for his wife and daughter and also offered to admit his son to school”, he said.
Later on one Zar Wali, an Afghan national who works for Usman Swati, offered money for the settlement, but the offer was refused.
The irony of the matter is that all these initiatives were taken by the Swati family after the matter was taken up by the Supreme Court on Oct 29, the JIT said.
The JIT also regretted that the women of the Niaz family were “improperly treated, even the police arrested them, took to the police station and detained them in the absence of a woman police official”.
This fact was stated by Maryum Bibi, Zakira Niaz and Ahsan Ullah in their statements before the JIT, the report said, adding that the gap of two and half hours to reach the Poly Clinic Hospital for medical check- up was unexplained.
Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2018