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Nawaz to face another JIT as SC orders probe into shrine land case

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday constituted a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the 1985 Pakpattan shrine land case involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) coordinator Khaliq Dad will head the JIT which will also comprise officials from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).

A bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, directed the probe team to finalise its terms of references and submit to the court by Dec 27.

The chief justice remarked that as per the documents available on record, Nawaz Sharif in his capacity as Punjab chief minister allotted the Auqaf Department’s land back then, but now he said he didn’t remember.

The former premier said he had not de-notified the property, the CJP observed and asked what would be the consequences if his claim proved wrong.

At the previous hearing, Mr Sharif appeared before the SC in the case. He was the chief minister of Punjab during that period three decades ago.

The CJP referred to the former PM and asked: “Did you de-notify the Auqaf Department’s property?” Sharif responded: “The case dates back to 32 years and as per my record, I have taken no such decision [to hand over shrine property to anyone]”.

“The property belonged to the Auqaf Department, but some people who claimed to be its real owners approached the district judge,” said the chief justice.

The CJP suggested formation of the JIT if the case required further probe.

Mr Sharif responded, saying: “You can form some other body instead of the joint investigation team… it doesn’t feel good to see the mention of the JIT”

Justice Nisar asked the former PM to decide himself what should be done in the case. ‘After all, meting out justice is not only judiciary’s job,’ he added.

The bench was informed that 8,000 kanal land of the Pakpattan shrine belonging to the Auqaf department was sold as per a 1985 order. “However, later the Auqaf department declared it a charitable endowment and a court judgment has also been passed in this regard,” the counsel informed the court.

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