ISLAMABAD - As a senior officer of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will head the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe Panamagate, its two senior officers out of three nominated are apparently trying to avoid heading the probe team by going on leave, The Nation has learnt.

In the light of the SC judgement in Panama Papers case, the FIA chief, Muhammad Amlish, has already forwarded names of the three additional director-generals (ADGs) of the FIA to the Supreme Court, through the interior ministry, for approval of any one name as the head of the JIT.

The DG FIA had also sent the names of two directors of the agency, Director Punjab Dr Usman Anwer and Director Islamabad Mazhar Kakakhel, for the selection of one of them as convener of the JIT.

The three names include Capt (retired) Ahmed Latif, Wajid Zia and Dr Shafiqur Rehman.

At present, only three ADGs are working in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The sources within the FIA said that as soon as the names were forwarded to the SC, the two officers including Capt (retired) Ahmed Latif and Dr Shafiqur Rehman had gone on leave apparently to avoid their appointment as the head of the JIT.

Capt (retd) Ahmed Latif has gone on medical leave, an official said.

Resultantly, the name of, Wajid Zia, had emerged as the most favourite candidate for the slot.

The FIA’s senior officers are between a rock and a hard place as it is always difficult for the bureaucracy to investigate the sitting prime minister and his family, an official commented, while wishing anonymity.

And it would become more difficult when the SC would be supervising the investigations, he added.

The five-member SC bench in the verdict of Panama Papers case said that “a senior officer of the FIA not below the rank of additional director-general who shall head the team having the firsthand experience of investigation of white-collar crime and related matters.”

The appointment as the head of the JIT is critical in the sense because findings of the probe team will decide the political future of the ruling party.

In the light of the SC judgement, the SC Registrar Office had written to all departments concerned to forward the names of their nominees for the selection of one final name, by the apex court for the JIT.

Capt (r) Ahmed Latif, a grade-20 officer of Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), is the most senior additional DG in the agency followed by Wajid Zia, a grade-20 officer of the Police PSP and Dr Shafiqur Rehman, a grade-19 officer belonging to the PSP, and currently working on current charge basis.

Capt (retd) Ahmed Latif heads the agency’s Anti-Corruption Wing and hails from urban Sindh.

Earlier, Latif had apparently expressed his disinterest to head the JIT saying he was a diabetic and was not well these days, the FIA sources insisted.

Dr Shafiqur Rehman is currently working on current charge and has Punjab domicile.

Dr Rehman has been rejected twice by the Central Selection Board (CSB) for promotion into grade-20.

Since he is working on current charge, he is automatically junior to his other two colleagues.

Wajid Zia belongs to Murree and is leading the immigration wing of the agency.

Zia is considered a religious person within the agency.

At the same time, he also enjoys the confidence of his interior ministry bosses, a source revealed.

Muhammad Amlish, a PSP officer and the Director-General of the FIA, is in bad terms with his immediate boss, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and Zia has been attending most of the meetings in the ministry chaired by the minister himself.

In May 2016, Nisar during a meeting had criticised Amlish on a media report reflecting his vision of bringing structural changes within the agency to improve its performance.

Amlish in his response had asked that he was ready to quit if the minister lacked trust in him.

The powerful minister did not like the response and since then the FIA chief has not been invited to a single meeting chaired by Nisar.

Wajid Zia represents the agency most at such high-level meetings— a fact that shows that he enjoys the confidence of the interior minister.

In the light of the judgement, the JIT members would include representatives of the National Accountability Bureau, the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the State Bank of Pakistan, the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence.

“The heads of the aforesaid departments/institutions shall recommend names of their nominees for the JIT within seven days from today, which shall be placed before us in chambers for nomination and approval,” said the judgement of the five-member bench.

As the seven-day time period given by the SC would expire tomorrow (Friday), if official holidays would be excluded during the time period, some of the departments have sent their three nominees to the SC.

The SECP finalised three names on Wednesday, while the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will also finalise the names by today (Thursday).

Similarly, other departments have either already sent names or would complete the process by Friday.