FIA asked to nab absconding MNA returning for no-trust

Published March 27, 2022
PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim. — Photo courtesy: National Assembly website/File
PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim. — Photo courtesy: National Assembly website/File

KARACHI / ISLAMABAD: Sindh Governor Imran Ismail on Saturday formally asked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Jam Abdul Karim upon his scheduled return to the country from the UAE on March 29.

The PPP MNA has apparently made a calculated move to return for the crucial National Assembly session to vote on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan in line with the party policy.

On Friday, Karim was granted a 10-day protective bail by the Sindh High Court in the murder case of Nazim Jokhio; he was asked to appear before the trial court within the said time period.

His return is likely to encourage the opposition parties desperately trying to ensure the support of enough number of lawmakers in the Lower House, but it also triggered the ruling party that made a preemptive move and decided to engage the FIA. Governor Ismail wrote to the agency chief to arrest the PPP MNA and hand him over to the Sindh police.

“Jam Abdul Karim is wanted in the murder case of Nazim Jokhio,” the Sindh governor said. “We have heard he’s planning to return and attend the National Assembly session. He’s involved in a heinous crime. We cannot leave any accused in such a situation. I have asked the FIA to enlist his name in the Provincial National Identification List (PNIL) as the accused is wanted in an FIR lodged by the Memon Goth police station.”

Minister says Karim, wanted in Jokhio murder case, did not obtain bail; will be held upon arrival from UAE

The PNIL is a 30-day temporary travel restriction introduced in 2018 as an alternative to the more tedious Exit Control List.

This new twist in the ongoing government-opposition clash emerged on Friday when hours after the SHC granted bail to the MNA, pictures of his air ticket went viral on social media, suggesting he is scheduled to land in Islamabad on March 29 from Dubai on a foreign airline flight.

The PPP MNA and his brother, MPA Jam Awais, are key suspects in the torture and murder case of Nazim Jokhio, who resisted hunting of the Houbara Bustards by the lawmakers’ foreign guests in November 2021 in Achar Salaar village on the outskirts of Karachi’s Malir district. Mr Jokhio was found dead at the Malir farmhouse of the MPA. Although Awais had been arrested, his elder brother had fled to the UAE.

With all legal formalities in place, legal experts believe there is little room for the PTI government to move against the PPP MNA.

“Since the Sindh High Court has granted a 10-day protective bail to the MNA, the law enforcement agencies cannot arrest him till April 3. They can only take him into custody if he fails to surrender before the trial court within the stipulated period,” said senior criminal lawyer Muhammad Farooq.

Facility for murder suspect questioned Interestingly, MNA Karim was among the three opposition lawmakers who were absent during the March 25 National Assembly session when the no-confidence motion was moved. The other two were Ali Wazir, who has been in judicial custody in Karachi since December 2020 in sedition cases, and one from Jamaat-i-Islami who decided to stay neutral.

The issuance of protective bail to the MNA to attend the all-important NA session created a storm on social media where users questioned the high court’s move to facilitate a suspect wanted in a murder case and absconding abroad, while the assembly speaker could not issue the production orders of Mr Wazir.

MNA Karim had applied for a protective bail first with the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which refused to entertain the petition, after which the lawmaker moved SHC.

An IHC official told Dawn that Karim, through his attorney Shah Khawar, had filed the petition. However, the registrar office raised the objection that it was filed without completing the requirements.

The official said the petition was filed through an authorised person, but the authority letter was not counsularised by the Pakistani mission in the UAE and verified through biometric means. After the IHC chief justice sustained the objections, counsel Shah Khawar had withdrawn the petition.

‘No bail notice received’

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid announced that Karim would be arrested upon his arrival from Dubai. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the minister claimed the suspect was returning without obtaining a bail.

“We will arrest him from the airport and hand him over to Sindh police. We have not received any notice (about a bail),” he claimed, adding the MNA’s name will also be sent to Interpol since the Sindh home department will not do so because the PPP needed his vote.

The minister said he had spoken to the Sindh inspector general of police, adding the MNA’s name was already on the PNIL.

Hours after the press conference, the Exit Control List committee of the Cabinet met and recommended placement of the names of all accused/co-accused in the case, including MNA Karim, on the ECL.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2022

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