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Nawaz quizzed by Model Town JIT in jail for two hours

Updated March 21, 2019

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Former premier Nawaz Sharif is facing allegations that 2014 Model Town operation was launched at his behest. — Reuters/File
Former premier Nawaz Sharif is facing allegations that 2014 Model Town operation was launched at his behest. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday recorded his statement before a five-member joint investigation team (JIT) probing the 2014 Model Town case.

The new JIT, constituted by Usman Buzdar-led Punjab government, visited the former premier at Kot Lakhpat jail and quizzed him for about two hours. Despite reports of his ‘poor health condition’, the JIT members found no problem in interviewing Mr Sharif, according to sources.

Mr Sharif, who is undergoing seven-year imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Mills corruption case, is facing allegations that the Model Town operation was launched at his and other Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwarts’ behest.

About 14 supporters of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri were killed by Punjab police in June 2014 during an anti-encroachment operation outside his residence. The PAT had claimed that the operation was launched at the behest of the Sharif brothers and some PML-N ministers.

Ex-PM won’t see visitors today due to health issues, says Maryam

During his appearance before the JIT, “Nawaz Sharif dismissed the allegation, expressing his ignorance about the police operation,” a source told Dawn.

On Monday, the JIT interrogated PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif about his role in the Model Town incident.

“Shahbaz Sharif told the JIT members that he neither ordered the operation nor had any knowledge about it prior to its launch. When he was told about the killings which were being broadcast by TV channels throughout that day, he said he had ordered ‘immediate disengagement’ of police personnel (taking part in the operation),” the source said.

The PML-N has expressed reservations over the formation of the new JIT while a judicial inquiry is going on into the Model Town incident.

The new JIT is headed by Inspector General of National Highways and Motorways Police A.D. Khwaja. Its members include representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the DIG of Gilgit-Baltistan police. It is the third JIT formed to investigate the Model Town incident.

A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the then chief justice Saqib Nisar, had disposed of the suo motu notice on Dec 5, 2018 after the Punjab government told the bench that a new JIT was going to be formed to investigate the Model Town case.

Bisma Amjad, daughter of Tanzila Amjad, who was killed in the Model Town police action, had then submitted an application to the then chief justice, seeking formation of a new JIT to probe the incident.

Expressing distrust in the earlier JIT reports, Dr Tahirul Qadri had also requested the court for formation of a new JIT, saying that no progress had been made in the case.

The second five-member JIT formed by the PML-N government had finalised the investigation in May 2015, exonerating the then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah from charges of ordering or abetting the police action.

No meeting with Nawaz today

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz has said Nawaz Sharif will not see visitors on Thursday (the day fixed for him to meet visitors) because of his poor health.

“Due to MNS’s health condition, he will not be able to receive any visitors tomorrow. May Allah bless him with long life & good health. We all need him. Pak needs him. Thank you everyone for your kind & continuous support. Means a lot to me,” Ms Nawaz tweeted on Wednesday. Earlier, Ms Nawaz alleged that the government was not allowing the Sharif family members to see him in jail.

“I am still waiting for the permission to meet MNS. He is unwell & its been 5 days that I have no access to him. Not even his personal physician has been allowed to see him,” she tweeted earlier this week. However, the Punjab government claimed that there was no restriction on the family members to meet the former premier.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2019