SC directs govt to form new JIT to investigate killing of Arshad Sharif

Arshad Sharif

Islamabad: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday rejected the already constituted joint investigation team (JIT) and directed the government to form a new team to probe the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial said the JIT should include officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and the police. He also added that the court does not want any member to have connections with any influential person.

“The federal government should immediately form a new investigation team. The court wants an independent team to investigate the issue,” the CJP remarked.

The orders of the CJP came just hours after IG Islamabad had established a JIT to probe the murder. The team consisted of five members with DIG headquarters as its chairman.

The Suo Motu notice

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial Tuesday took suo motu of the “brutal killing” of senior journalist Arshad Sharif.

The SC directed the federal government to register a first information report (FIR) of the killing of the famous journalist, Arshad Sharif, by yesterday (Tuesday).

During the hearing on Tuesday, the CJP wondered why the court had not been provided with the report by the fact-finding committee. At this, the Additional Attorney General assured the court that he would present the report in the next hearing — which took place today (Wednesday).

Headed by Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar as its other members, a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court heard the case today.

Today’s hearing

During the hearing, Arshad’s mother and his widow, Javeria Siddique, as well as the DG FIR, the information secretary and the Islamabad police chief were present.

At the outset of today’s hearing, the interior ministry presented the fact-finding report and the FIR copy registered on Tuesday as per the instructions of the court.

Arshad Sharif’s mother also took the stand and contended that she did not want another mother to go through what she had experienced. She also thanked the CJP for taking suo motu notice of her son’s killing.

At this, the CJP said that they were working on this case for a month. “There is no need for thanks. The court is carrying out its duty,” he added.

Sharif’s mother told the court that the fact-finding report detailed how her son was first made to leave Pakistan and then Dubai. She further said that her son was receiving death threats. “I only want justice for my son,” she said.

The CJP called on the government to investigate her claims from all angles. The court directed the officials concerned to record the statement of Sharif’s mother.

The hearing of the case was subsequently adjourned till tomorrow (Thursday).

The killing of Arshad Sharif

Arshad Sharif was shot dead in Nairobi, Kenya, in October, which the Kenyan police described as a case of “mistaken identity”.

Journalist Arshad Sharif shot dead in Kenya; confirms wife

Since the killing of Arshad Sharif, many in Pakistan, including Imran Khan-led PTI, had been urging the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the “target killing”. They claimed that Arshad was forced to leave Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates — where he had stayed for a short time before heading to Kenya. The Foreign Office has, however, dismissed these claims.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also announced that a judicial commission would be formed to probe the matter and subsequently wrote to the CJP about his request.

The slain journalist’s mother also wrote a letter to the CJP on November 2, requesting the formation of a high-powered judicial commission to investigate the murder.