Military Courts Panama Army JIT
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Moeed Pirzada |

On Monday, Pakistan Army, pledged to play its role in the Panama Investigations, by participation in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) as directed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. DG ISPR issued a press release, after the 202nd Corps Commanders Conference.

Has any JIT ever delivered?

This press release has further compounded the debate going on in the country regarding the wisdom and effectiveness of a JIT, being created and supervised by the Supreme Court. None of the JIT’s constituted in the past few years has met public confidence or any yardstick of justice comparable to best international practices. “Model Town JIT” of 2014/15 is a case in point. It is widely perceived that it was used not to find the truth but to bail out the high ups in Punjab government responsible for the killings. JIT merely helped to water down the findings of the report of Justice Baqar Najfi of Lahore High Court; both the “Baqir Report” and JIT report were never made public. Many serious questions had thus already risen with regard to the effectiveness of this latest JIT Team for Panama; answers to which are, as of yet not clear.

Read more: Pakistani Politics after Panama Decision: Lull before the Storm?

JIT: Issues of Capacity, especially of Army officers?

The Joint Investigation Team, as constituted by the Supreme Court decision, will be composed of representatives from the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), State Bank of Pakistan, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence.

None of the JIT’s constituted in the past few years has met public confidence or any yardstick of justice comparable to best international practices. “Model Town JIT” of 2014/15 is a case in point. It is widely perceived that it was used not to find truth but to bail out the high ups in Punjab government responsible for the killings.

The first and foremost question is regarding the capacity in which these individuals forming the JIT will be acting. Will they have access to the resources of their respective institutions or will they be acting as individuals and using their own expertise and judgment? These concerns become all the more important in the case of the representatives of the military. How will their individual skills be relevant to the case at hand? In this country, JITs have, unfortunately, a history of being notoriously non-consequential when it comes to investigating the government hence it is imperative that the veil of ambiguity surrounding these questions be lifted.

Read more: After Panama: The ‘Untouchable Elites’ survive to live another day

Dawn Leaks Report becomes Important? 

The upcoming ‘Dawn Leaks’ report, in these circumstances, now suddenly assumes a far greater importance as it will show whether the inclusion of the military establishment in a civil inquiry yields any tangible enforcement in the form of indictments, prosecutions, and convictions through due judicial process.


Dawn leaks cannot be explained as a mistake or blunder; it happened as a result of deliberate planning, action, and collaboration between several people inside Prime Minister’s Office. Govt friendly media has often tried to portray it as something related to Dawn or Cyrill Almeida, but they are only secondary characters. The real issue is: Who planned? who ordered? what was the motive?

And those political elements – PMLN and its allies – that spent the past four years spitting venom against Pakistan Army for perceived interference in politics – are now expecting Army to bail out PM Nawaz Sharif at a time when most opposition parties are demanding his resignation

If the result of the Dawn Leaks inquiry is again wishy washy and the government is handed another ‘clean chit’ – like the Model Town JIT – it will make it obvious, to all including the man on the street, that perceived influence of the military is a greatly exaggerated phenomenon. But it is precisely this “perceived influence” and its public appreciation that is being relied on by the Supreme Court judges in the Panama investigation. And it is this “perceived influence” that is being referred to by the Corps Commanders meeting in assuring the public. No one in Pakistan has any trust whatsoever in reps of SECP, State Bank, FIA, and NAB. But if the military is unable to get justice for itself, then what assurances is it offering to the public? This is now on almost every mind. Many public figures are openly expressing their doubts, these doubts have only multiplied by today’s Corps Commanders Conference.

Read more: Justice delayed is Justice denied: Panama Case nearing the end?

If the result of the Dawn Leaks inquiry is again wishy washy and the government is handed another ‘clean chit’ – like the Model Town JIT – it will make it obvious, to all including the man on street, that perceived influence of the military is a greatly exaggerated phenomenon. But it is precisely this “perceived influence” and its public appreciation that is being relied on by the Supreme Court judges in the Panama investigation.

In recent instances, the Army had maintained its aloofness when asked to influence civilian proceedings. Imran Khan repeatedly called upon the ‘third umpire’ during his Dharna and PAT chief Dr. Tahirul Qadri asked then COAS Gen. Raheel Sharif to provide justice for the victims of the Model Town tragedy – provoking protests from across the political divide. In both instances, the Army maintained its neutrality. This time, however, it is the Supreme Court that is calling and it seems to have forced the military to participate. But will military’s inclusion make any difference?

It, therefore, appears that the military establishment has been successfully dragged into a politically charged situation. The Pakistani public is experiencing a dreaded sense of déjà vu as the political sphere has again demonstrated its incapability to resolve issues on its own. And those political elements – PMLN and its allies – that spent the past four years spitting venom against Pakistan Army for perceived interference in politics – are now expecting Army to bail out PM Nawaz Sharif at a time when most opposition parties are demanding his resignation – for losing his moral and political legitimacy after the Panama decision.

Read more: Imran Khan Rejects Judicial Commission on Panama Corruption Case & Demands a Five Member Supreme Court Bench

Purpose of the JIT: To Give Nawaz another chance? 

Under the government lead media spin, and ISPR statements, most have forgotten that this JIT is only being set up to give PM Nawaz another chance to clear his name. But hopefully, people will regain their “common sense” soon.

Either way, Pakistan Army will lose -unless it designs an ultra-transparent process where every evidence presented, every argument advanced to JIT and every question raised by JIT will be known to media and public – the way it was in Supreme Court

The obvious facts are: despite one year of public debate, several months of court wrangling and most expensive lawyers PM Nawaz and his family were unable to provide satisfactory evidence of money trail to the public or in the court room. This is not about a murder trial, accused in this case is not being denied his life or liberty; this is about abuse of political office and exercise of political power.

Read more: Panama Papers & Pakistan’s kingdom of lies!

Anywhere else, other than Pakistan, any politician in Nawaz Sharif’s situation would have been forced to resign a long time ago. But here in Pakistan, such is the control of a narrow Punjab origin political, bureaucratic and legal elite that ever newer excuses are being crafted to extend Nawaz Sharif’s political fortunes. And the legal debate is being shaped around Panama Case on media as if it was a murder trial and accused could face grievous consequences of life or liberty – so he must keep on getting chances to clear his name. The reality is that in democracies if a politician in power is unable to clear his situation in open public forums then he is supposed to be lying. Had Pakistan been a normal country then forget the excuse of a JIT, this matter would have never gone to the Supreme Court.

Under the circumstances, how a JIT, that is perceived to be weak and compromised from the beginning and is ostensibly being set up to give Nawaz a chance, will make any difference in public perceptions? Where does Pakistan Army fit in?

Read more: Will there be any resolution on Panamagate?

It was in this charged political atmosphere that ISPR released a statement saying ‘The forum pledged that Institution through its members in JIT shall play its due role in a legal and transparent manner fulfilling confidence reposed by the Apex Court of Pakistan’.

Has Army been trapped into a strange JIT? 

Anywhere else, other than Pakistan, any politician in Nawaz Sharif’s situation would have been forced to resign long time ago. But here in Pakistan, such is the control of a narrow Punjab origin political, bureaucratic and legal elite that ever newer excuses are being crafted to extend Nawaz Sharif’s political fortunes.

What can the ‘due role’ of a military institution be in an investigation of financial forensics? The military has been put into a tight spot. PMLN and its allies – ANP, JUIF and PKMAP etc and many in the liberal media had spent last four years demonizing military for its perceived interference in politics. Now they are expecting Army to bail them out. If Army officers are assertive and firm in demanding credible evidence during the investigation they will be accused of a witch hunt against PM Nawaz and of conspiring against the democracy.

Read more: Panama Crisis & Government by threats, bluffs and lies!

And if they are soft in their probes, then their image of integrity and reliability, held by the majority of the populace, will become compromised. In any case, the appeals to trust the process are being made to PTI and other opponents of PM Nawaz – so the process looks suspicious from the beginning. Either way, Pakistan Army will lose -unless it designs an ultra-transparent process where every evidence presented, every argument advanced to JIT and every question raised by JIT will be known to media and public – the way it was in the Supreme Court. Pakistani public has a special bond with its Army; it is not based on fear of guns but on respect, trust and deep admiration for the institution. If Panama JIT disrupts that relationship of trust, between the Army and the public then it will be a far bigger loss to the nation; whatever happens to the political fortunes of a politician, at the far end of his career, accused of serious corruption is a much smaller matter.

Moeed Pirzada is prominent TV Anchor & commentator; he studied international relations at Columbia Univ, New York and law at London School of Economics. Twitter: MoeedNj. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy. This piece was first published in Moeed Pirzada’s official page. It has been reproduced with permission.

Moeed Hasan Pirzada is a Pakistani political commentator, geostrategic analyst, and a television news journalist. He is an anchor at Dunya News and hosts TV programs. He has interviewed many politicians around the world. Moeed Hassan Pirzada has also been a Director World Affairs and Content Head of PTV News and hosted the famous talk show Sochta Pakistan, a program that discussed national, regional, strategic, social and educational issues with politicians, analysts and policy makers. He has worked with Dunya News-TV channel as a Director World Affairs and hosted the current affairs talk show Dunya Today. He has written for Dubai-based regional paper Khaleej Times. His columns have appeared in major Pakistani papers such as Dawn, The News International, Daily Times, Friday Times and blogs. He has attended national and international conferences, seminars and policy workshops and had been a member of the Prime Minister's Education Task Force that collaborated with the British Council to produce the Next Generation Report. He has contributed policy papers to Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) and also written several policy pieces for Pique Magazine. He is an Executive Director of Governance & Policy Advisors (GAPA) that provides consultancy services to the government institutions, development organizations and corporate bodies on issues related to media, governance, health policy, and regional peace.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The Army has always been the target of politicians as i am aware since 1958 the politicians were allowed to have free. and fair elections the attitude of politicians forced the CMLA to take Mil action which resulted in indo pak war and separation of the country took place because the politician tore of Polish resolution and he became president and Civ CMLA the first in world He sacked about 20/30seniorofficers incl gens lt gen maj gen brigs col etc creating venom amongst young offrs who later rose to higher echelons sacking of Cnic lt gen gul and air mrshal Rahim created an atmosphere of fear and resulted in so called Coup in country Gen court martial conducted as orderd by head of state a civ politician appointment of Zia. ul haq as COAS was a shock the PM kept playing Game till he was removed and later hanged The politicians came into power in 1988 to1999 in ppp govt and Pml(n) were dismissed twice In1993Army interfered both president and Pm were sacked In 1999the sacked pm of pml(n)took rdvenge with COAS promoted and appointed by him sacked him like Jk who just resigned but this Army took punitive action and took control of country politicians were jailed The pm begged for mercy signed NRO with Military not to enter pakistan for 10 years but came back becausr ppp signed an NRO with president in BEnzir zardari was forbidden to before election of2008but she kept coming and going to uk and Dubai ppp Pml(n) signed COD which meant to ensure Army does not come in power they also agreed to rule in turn first term was given to Ppp and mow pml (n) this govt has been trying to keep Army away but forced by circumstances to heavily depend on Army but the pm kept plundering the exchequer and simultaneously kept promoting his daughter Maryum wife of his A,DC capt safdar he thought the she will become like ZA Bhutto daughter Benazir alas she couldnt so she became defacto pm she had many clowns under her command so Dawn leak case detected by a puppet was made head of that inquiry where perviz Rashid Maryum safdar Nawaz Fawad hmed fwad the pm himself have not been indicted but few escape goats found The president of inquiry should be tried by mil court and till death he has taken month whereas i would have taken maximum a day or Two No one on earth can belittle Army ability to look after the bordersand internal situation no sanaullah danial aziz triq fazal ch talalch marum ahrangzeb mazia hameed anusha rdhman kh asif kh Saad rafique can destroy Army imags i end by requesting the thecorrupt pm to sendson of politicians on the borders where our officers and soldiers are being killed and you are plundering y wealth of this nation i some of thepoliticians child become victim of terrorists attack then you will start respecting the Armd Forces mr pm may Allah guide you to understand the gravity of the case and resign from this post of pm

  2. Why the JIT will fail: fabrication of Sharif family’s tax record

    Recently, a notification was issued stating “With the approval of competent authority, Dr. Muhammad Irshad shall stand re-employed as Chairman FBR in BS-22 after his retirement, on standard terms and conditions, for the period from April 24, 2017 to June 30, 2017”.

    Who is this person and why was he so indispensable for the Nawaz government to re-employ him? Because by doing so, it has blatantly violated two explicit orders of the Supreme Court – the first against re-employment of retired persons, and the second passed on 15-03-2017, directing the High Powered Board to reconsider its meeting of August 2016 within one month.

    This gentleman joined civil service in Income Tax Group with the 13th CTP. His batchmates and colleagues describe him as “pleasant but untrustworthy” and “having no technical competence but great expertise in sycophancy”. In some manner yet unclear, he managed to add the three years of his pre-CSS service as army doctor to his seniority – a feat so far unmatched by any other officer. Then, through his obsequiousness and charm, he managed to obtain the most lucrative positions in the field service, and later, without having any prior experience in FBR headquarters, landed the most-sought after position as Member IR Operations FBR.

    His ambition did not stop there. Being quite low in the seniority in BS-21 officers of Inland Revenue Service, he was shrewd enough to realize that he wouldn’t get promoted before his retirement in April 2017. His golden chance came with the breaking Panama scandal, when the assets of the Prime Minister’s family came under question. Seizing the moment, he volunteered to extricate the Prime Minister from the mess. With the help of his friend, the Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue Lahore Choudhry Safdar and some trusted staff members, the actual income tax returns of Mian Sharif and his family were replaced by fabricated ones. Since the tax returns in the 1980s and early 90s were filed manually, this exercise did not present much of a problem. For this service to the Sharif family, in August 2016, Choudhry Safdar and Dr. Muhammad Irshad, standing at serial number 10 and 16 of the seniority list respectively, were promoted out of turn to BS-22, by a mis-constituted High Powered Board, ignoring more senior, qualified, honest and competent officers. Later Irshad was also gifted with the position of Chairman FBR by a grateful Prime Minister.

    However, this is not the end of the story. In a petition filed by Ms. Raana Ahmed against being passed over for promotion for no valid reason, the Supreme Court passed order on 15-03-2017, directing the High Powered Board to properly reconsider all the officers within one month. However, this order has been starkly ignored by the government, who instead went on to re-employ Dr. Irshad for a further period of almost three months, in sheer violation of another Supreme Court order against re-employment of retired officers.

    The reasons for this disobedience to Supreme Court orders are not too far to find. In the Panama case judgment, the Supreme Court directed to form a JIT comprising of different agencies. Conspicuously no member from FBR was included in the JIT. Apparently, this was deliberate, in order to enable FBR to independently present the fabricated returns of Mian Sharif showing he had huge assets and investments abroad even in the 1980s and 90s, thus creating the first part of the money trail in favour of Nawaz Sharif. Against this backdrop, it is therefore understandably that government wants to continue the services of Dr. Muhammad Irshad even at the risk of violating two clear orders of the Supreme Court.

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