Senior Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif during a recoding of an episode of his talk show at a studio, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Dec. 15, 2016. Image Credit: AP file

ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry on Thursday, as per the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif.

The names of the members included in the body were shared with the apex court and a notification in this regard was also produced.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman presented before the court the names of the special JIT, according to which Islamabad police DIG Awais Ahmed, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer Muhammad Aslam, Military Intelligence’s representative Murtaza Afzal, the Federal Investigation Agency Cybercrime Director Waqar¬uddin Syed and Intelligence Bureau (IB) Deputy Director General Sajid Kiani are members of the investigation team.

The court directed the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to submit a progress report fortnightly in the judges’ chambers.

A five-member bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Mandokhel, Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, resumed hearing of the suo motu case on Thursday and the Islamabad SSP and his team to cooperate with the investigating team.

Foreign Ministry’s report ‘shows’ the way

While referring to the report submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chief Justice Bandial noted that the foreign ministry had put forth suggestions in the report it had submitted, adding that it had also assured that it would assist the JIT in its probe.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs has shown the way” to the JIT giving good suggestions in its report,” he observed.

To a question by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar regarding the time the JIT will take in conclusion of its findings, the AAG replied that it would depend on the response of the Kenyan officials. He however added that the team would make all possible efforts to complete the probe at the earliest.

Islamabad police directed to assist JIT

The notification has directed the Islamabad police to assist the JIT in collecting evidence. The foreign ministry was also directed to “facilitate coordination for provision of visas and assistance in foreign jurisdictions” for the JIT.

The AAG said if necessary, authorities would contact Interpol to arrest the suspects in the case.

The Kenyan authorities had claimed the journalist was killed in a mistaken identity case after which the African country’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) launched an investigation, the findings of which have not been released as yet.

Sharif fled Pakistan citing threats to his life after a number of treason cases were filed against him.

The apex court took notice and sought responses from the ministries of foreign and interior.

In the previous hearing, the top court had directed the government to constitute a special joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the journalist’s killing and to notify the members by Thursday.