Thursday, March 23, 2023

Arshad Sharif murder: SC directs govt to register FIR, form new JIT to probe journalist’s killing

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has directed the government to register a first information report (FIR) of the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif, submit fact-finding committee’s report and form a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe into the journalist’s killing.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the directives during the hearing of the suo motu notice of Arshad Sharif’s murder in Kenya in late October.

A five-member bench comprising of senior Supreme Court judges is hearing the case. The bench includes CJP Bandial, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.

 “The journalist community in the country and the public at large are deeply distressed and concerned about the death of the senior journalist and are seeking the court’s scrutiny of the matter,” said the apex court in a statement announcing the suo motu action.

New JIT’s composition

The apex court has also directed the government to form a new special joint investigation team (JIT) comprising intelligence officials to probe Sharif’s murder in Kenya. 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

The apex court ordered the government to issue a notification about the new JIT and inform it about the members of the JIT by Thursday. The SC clarified that the investigation should be conducted by senior officers who are experts in understanding the case and gathering evidence outside Pakistan.

“The court has not formed a judicial commission as it is a criminal case,” CJP Bandial observed during the hearing, adding that the investigation should begin from Khurram and Waqar, the two men Sharif was in contact with in Kenya.

The court also issued notices to the interior secretary, foreign secretary, information secretary, director generals of the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), Intelligence Bureau, and president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

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