This is the season of Joint Investigation Teams (JITs). There have been scores of JITs in the past as well because different intelligence agencies are asked to provide their representatives and input to investigate difficult cases. However, few JITs have gained so much importance as the ones in session nowadays.
Two JITs are making headlines, the one in the federal capital more so than the other working in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The six-member JIT based in Islamabad is feverishly at work as it has to meet the two-month deadline given to it by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Its conclusions will have far-reaching consequences as it could lead to the disqualification or resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. That a democratically elected prime minister with a comfortable majority in the parliament could be sent home on the basis of the JIT’s report explains the enormity of its task. In fact, it has been vested with powers like never before.
No wonder then that this JIT has generated controversy and put its six members under focus. The judiciary also is on trial as it has once again been asked to adjudicate matters that carry political consequences. The military establishment and its powerful intelligence agencies, the ISI and MI, that are represented in the JIT too are under the radar. Any adverse outcome of the JIT for the prime minister and the ruling PML-N could even put them into confrontation with the judiciary and the military and change the country’s political landscape.
The other JIT that investigated the murder of Mashal Khan of the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan has already completed its work. The bright young student was lynched by fellow students, university employees and outsiders on April 13 on suspicion of committing blasphemy. The 13-member JIT formed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government presented its report less than a month later.
The JIT report on the Mardan incident was generally welcomed, but there have been some dissenting views as well – mostly from the religio-political parties.
The JIT concluded that Mashal Khan was murdered under a well-devised plan that was in the works about a month before the incident. It blamed the Pakhtun Students Federation (PkSF), a student wing of the secular Awami National Party (ANP), for conceiving the plan on the instigation of those hurt by Mashal Khan’s accusations about irregularities, including the violation of merit in recruitments, being committed at the university. The JIT report vindicated Mashal’s objections as it found out that merit was clearly violated and appointments made at the university on the basis of political favouritism and nepotism.
The fact remains that students aligned to almost every political party on campus took part in Mashal’s lynching.
The JIT report absolved Mashal Khan of committing blasphemy by pointing out that no such evidence was available. It also mentioned the seriously wounded Mashal’s dying statement to his hostel warden in which he recited the Kalima Tayyaba, asserted that he was a Muslim, and beseeched to be taken to the hospital.
The JIT recommended action against several senior members of the university management. It raised questions about the role of the police, which was criticised for failing to act in time to save Mashal’s life, and recommended formation of a special committee to probe this aspect of the gory incident. The special committee of two senior cops is presently tasked with the job and its report is keenly awaited.
However, what is far more keenly awaited is the report of the JIT probing the money trail in the Panama Papers leaks case and the way it will be subsequently handled by the Supreme Court judges. This summer has been really hot and it could get hotter as political temperatures rise in the coming days.
The writer is resident editor of
The News in Peshawar.
Rahimullah Yusufzai, "The season of JITs," The News. 2017-06-14.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Supreme court , Political party , Political landscape , Blasphemy , Violence , Democracy , Mashal Khan , PM Nawaz Sharif , Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , Islamabad , JIT , ANP , ISI