The federal government on Thursday informed the Supreme Court that a new joint investigation team (JIT) has been formed to probe the murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya.
The special JIT is led by DIG Headquarter Islamabad Police Awais Ahmed and has four other members – namely Muhammad Aslam from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Murtaza Afzal from the Military Intelligence (MI), Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) Waqaruddin Syed, and Sajid Kayani of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
The five-member bench, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, also instructed the new investigation team to submit a progress report before the next date of the hearing.
Justice Bandial said that the apex court "wants an honest and impartial investigation" and expressed hope that progress will be made in different areas of the investigation.
The bench added that in case the JIT faces any administrative difficulty, it mat approach the office of the CJP for resolution.
The Foreign Office (FO)0 secretary also submitted a report in which he detailed different means through which the investigation team can be facilitated by the ministry.
"The government will fully fund the JIT," said Additional Attorney General Chaudhary Amir Rehman.
Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, however, pointed out that no timeline is being given to the JIT for the completion of the task.
The apex court then adjourned the hearing till the first week of January.
MoFA's reply to SC
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), in a reply submitted to the apex court during the case's hearing, stated that it is considering bringing the primary accused in the Arshad Sharif murder case back to Pakistan.
The apex court had taken suo motu notice of the case and directed the MoFA to submit its response.
The response maintained that the ministry was in constant contact with Pakistani envoys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kenya to facilitate the investigation and obtain evidence by the authorities.
The ministry furthered that the prime minister of Pakistan had contacted the Kenyan president by telephone and requested assistance in the investigation, adding that contact with Kenyan authorities would soon yield “positive results”.
The Kenyan High Commission would soon share the final results of the investigation with Pakistan, said the ministry in its reply.
The apex court was informed that the Foreign Office (FO) was also reviewing procedures to seek assistance from international agencies to further the investigation.
The response highlighted that the FO was committed to maintaining friendly relations with Kenya and the UAE and was considering sending a special delegation to raise the matter with the Kenyan authorities.
Read SC directs to form JIT in Arshad Sharif murder case
In the reply submitted to the SC, MoFA further stated that it was also considering establishing telephonic contact between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Kenya and added that instructions were being issued to the Pakistan High Commission in Kenya to speed up the investigation of the case.
The response maintained that a request was sent to the interior ministry for the collection of evidence and legal assistance from the UAE.
FO stated that it was focusing on other legal options to bring the evidence and investigation to a logical conclusion.
"The Foreign Office will cooperate with the Special JIT as much as possible,” the statement said.
Earlier this week, Chief Justice Bandial took suo motu notice of the murder. Headed by the CJP, a five-member bench comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, is hearing the case.