ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has raised serious questions over the conduct of Intelligence Bureau (IB) in the ongoing Panamagate case probe by a joint investigation team (JIT) into the Sharif family’s offshore wealth.
A three-judge implementation bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, warned the civilian intelligence agency against harassing the JIT members, investigating the allegations of corruption against the ruling family in line with the top court’s historic April 20 verdict in the Panama Papers case.
“Harassment of JIT members must be stopped forthwith, otherwise we will have to pass unpleasant orders,” remarked Justice Ijazul Ahsen. The judge asked Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf Ali to tell government officials to “remain in limits”.
Another judge, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, asked the AGP to tell the IB officials to immediately stop harassing members of the probe body. “Advise your government not to create obstructions in the operation of the JIT and don’t enforce us to pass any order,” Justice Sheikh said. “For god’s sake, don’t use IB in this matter.”
The judge went on to ask whether the agency was working for private individuals or the state of Pakistan. He observed the IB committed a crime by passing on the information of JIT members to a private person (Hussain Nawaz).
The bench sought legal assistance from AGP regarding IB’s role in the Panamagate proceedings. Justice Khan asked the AGP to inform the court what should be done about the agency’s role in the case.
The top court bench also directed the head of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to launch an inquiry over the JIT allegations of forgery by Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) in the records of companies owned by the Sharifs.
IB chief Aftab Sultan last week confirmed that information on JIT members was gathered because of the high-profile nature of the Panama Papers case. In a two-page letter submitted to the top court on June 17, Sultan said how the low-downs were leaked was a matter of political concern, and the issue was already under investigation. In its earlier response, the IB had denied allegations of hacking of the Facebook accounts of JIT member Bilal Rasool or his family.