ISLAMABAD - The Prime Minister House and other departments have strongly denied the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)’s allegations of creating obstacles in the way of Panama case investigation.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Friday submitted a four-page statement containing replies of Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Ministry of Law and Justice, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and PM Secretariat.

A three-member implementation bench of apex court had sought reply from the attorney general over JIT’s application filed with the apex court complaining that the above said departments were creating impediments and obstacles in its way to interrogate Sharif family.

PM House Reply

The PM House denied the JIT’s allegations of tutoring the witnesses and the persons who are being summoned by the probe team.

The JIT had also claimed that confidential letters are being leaked by misusing the location of the PM’s House.

The PM House demanded proof of the allegations and said, if need be, the named persons will be willing to file rejoinder.

It submitted that reliance and reference to technical analysis is indeed an admission by the JIT of phone tapping and monitoring of witnesses, which is violation of law and the constitution.

The PM House also denied the leakage of summons for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for appearing before the JIT.

It said that the summons issued by the JIT may have been leaked by the JIT or its staff. It also maintained that the summons are a matter of public knowledge and [their leakage] do not in any manner hamper the investigations, as alleged.

The reply filed by AGP contended that decisions on the JIT application cannot be given without the named parties being put to notice and recording of evidence. He stated this exercise may consume considerable time and divert the focus of the matter.

SECP Rejoinder

The JIT in its complaint to the Supreme Court had stated that SECP Chairman Zafarul Haq Hijazi was instrumental in closing an investigation into a money laundering case launched against Chaudhry Sugar Mills, ostensibly to facilitate those under investigation.

The report had also alleged that the SECP chairman’s orders to tamper with the record and close the money laundering investigation retroactively was executed by SECP Executive Director Ali Azeem Ikram, whose name was proposed for the JIT by the SECP chairman.

The SECP denied the JIT allegations and reiterated with supporting documents that investigation against Chaudhry Sugar Mills was in fact closed in 2013, while probe team had stated that it was closed in 2016, with effect from Jan 8, 2013.

The SECP contended that correspondence with the UKCA for mutual legal assistance clearly showed that the said investigation was closed in 2013 well before the appointment of incumbent chairman. The allegations of tampering with record are thus prima facie incorrect, it claimed.

About nomination of Ali Azeem, it said the nomination of a person or another by the institution was a matter prior to the formation of JIT and cannot be dubbed as obstacle in the working of JIT. The SECP maintained that in any event, reference to Whatsapps calls and nomination of Ali Aziz is not called for.

All the necessary correspondence has been appended with the reply hence, be that as it may the JIT can draw its own conclusion, the SECP submitted.

NAB and FBR Response

The NAB denied using 'underhanded tactics' to pressure JIT member Irfan Naeem Mangi and issuing him show cause notice with mala fide intention.

“Show cause notice was issued to Mangi in pursuant of the Supreme Court order along with 77 other persons prior to the formation of JIT,” the NAB submitted, adding they have also pointed out that the matter stands suspended.

Federal Board of Revenue also denied the JIT's allegation that it had submitted piecemeal, incomplete and selective records of the income and wealth tax returns of the Sharif family from 1985 to date.

The FBR maintained in its reply that for the first time on May 8, 2017, the JIT requested record and then on May 25, May 29 and June 8. The requests related to old record spanning over 40 years and involving several individuals. It submitted that the record was provided within the minimum possible period of time and thus the allegations were not well founded.

Law Ministry reply

The Ministry of Law and Justice specifically denied all the allegations against it. It contended that the letter for mutual legal assistance under Section 21 was got issued in record three-day time, adding the documents showed that the JIT members were aware of the Rules of Business that circulation of necessary correspondence was to be made by the foreign office and interior ministry under Rule 56 of the Rules of Business 1973.

IB denies hacking claims

The Intelligence Bureau denied the allegation of hacking of Facebook account of JIT member Bilal Rasool and his family or any other member of JIT. “Low downs on member of the JIT were done under the Standard Operating Procedures, thus, the allegations levelled against it are vehemently denied,” the IB maintained.

The JIT had alleged IB of hacking an account in the use of Bilal and his family in order to retrieve its contents, which were apparently attached by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's elder son Hussain Nawaz in a complaint regarding the JIT's partiality to the SC.

Regarding Nehal Hashmi speech, the attorney general submitted that the prime minister of Pakistan took immediate steps, which shows that no mala fide intent is involved in the matter. He contended that Hashmi has been stripped off his membership of the party and an FIR has also been lodged against him.

It appears that the JIT has wasted time on social media marketing, watching TV talk shows and reading articles, BBC reported the AGP as telling the court after submission of the joint reply.

IB denies hacking claims

The Intelligence Bureau denied the allegation of hacking of Facebook account of JIT member Bilal Rasool and his family or any other member of JIT. “Low downs on member of the JIT were done under the Standard Operating Procedures, thus, the allegations levelled against it are vehemently denied,” the IB maintained.

The JIT had alleged IB of hacking an account in the use of Bilal and his family in order to retrieve its contents, which were apparently attached by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's elder son Hussain Nawaz in a complaint regarding the JIT's partiality to the SC.

Regarding Nehal Hashmi speech, the attorney general submitted that the prime minister of Pakistan took immediate steps, which shows that no mala fide intent is involved in the matter. He contended that Hashmi has been stripped off his membership of the party and an FIR has also been lodged against him.

It appears that the JIT has wasted time on social media marketing, watching TV talk shows and reading articles, BBC reported the AGP as telling the court after submission of the joint reply.