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ISLAMABAD: A joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to probe the Model Town incident has been allowed by the accountability court of Islamabad to interrogate former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

A deputy superintendent of the Punjab Police, Mohammad Iqbal, filed an application before the acco­untability court, seeking its permission to interrogate Mr Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail in connection with the Model Town incident.

Since accountability court Judge Mohammad Arshad Malik convicted Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference on Dec 24 and sentenced him to seven-year imprisonment, he was competent to grant permission to an investigation agency to interrogate the former prime minister.

The applicant appeared in person before the accountability court and stated that Mr Sharif was nominated in the First Information Report (FIR) of the model town incident.

He requested the court to allow him to meet Mr Sharif in jail for the investigation of the case.

The prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Mirza Usman Masood, opposed the application and said that the investigation officer should approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to obtain such permission. According to the prosecution, the IHC was the appropriate forum where the applicant might seek permission for meeting with the former premier.

Judge Malik after briefly hearing the arguments from both sides — the applicant and the NAB prosecution — allowed the investigation officer, DSP Iqbal, to interrogate Mr Sharif.

The current JIT is said to be the third such team which was formed to investigate the Model Town incident in which as many as 14 workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were killed and scores of others injured during clashes with the police.

The first JIT was headed by the former Punjab IGP Arif Mushtaq. It was formed some 15 days after the Model Town incident.

The second five-member JIT, formed on Nov 17, 2014, had conducted and finalised its investigation in May 2015. It had exonerated former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah from charges of ordering or abetting the police action. It was headed by Quetta police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema and comprised Inter-Services Intelligence’s Col Ahmad Bilal, Intelligence Bureau’s Director Mohammad Ali, Senior Superintendent of Police Rana Shahzad Akbar and DSP Crime Investigation Agency Khalid Abu Bakr.

The third JIT was constituted after a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, disposed of the suo motu notice on Dec 5 after the Punjab government apprised the bench that a new JIT was going to be formed to investigate the Model Town case.

Bisma Amjad, the daughter of Tanzila Amjad who was killed in the Model Town incident, had submitted an application to the chief justice, seeking formation of a new JIT to probe the killing of workers of the PAT and Idara Minhajul Quran.

The Model Town incident took place on June 17, 2014, in which 14 people were killed and 100 others injured after police launched an assault on PAT supporters gathered outside the residence of their party chief Mohammad Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.

A subsequent judicial inquiry report on the incident pointed fingers at then Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah and the Punjab Police for what had transpired that day.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019