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ISLAMABAD: The Attorney General for Pakistan has suggested that a commission instead of an inquiry committee should probe Broadsheet scam.

“This is my position,” the AGP told Business Recorder, when asked, should a commission under Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2017 probe the allegations in the Broadsheet case?

The commission set up under the Act has the powers of civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and can summon and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining on oath, require the discovery and production of any documents; receive evidence on affidavits.

The federal government has set up a committee headed by Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, a former judge of the Supreme Court for inquiring the Broadsheet affairs.

However, the opposition parties, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have expressed reservations on his nomination on the investigating panel.

The reservation against Justice Azmat is that he was part of the bench in the Panama Papers case which disqualified Nawaz Sharif. After his retirement, he joined the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital’s Board of Governors.

According to the Supreme Court’s website, Justice Azmat was deputy prosecutor general National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at Islamabad in 2000 for one year and was later appointed special prosecutor NAB in 2001 to prosecute cases before Accountability Courts at Attock Fort and Rawalpindi. However, it is not clear if the former judge had played a role, if any, in the formulation and signing of the asset recovery agreement and/or its eventual termination.

The opposition parties say it is a sensitive matter which should be investigated in a transparent manner and want that a serving judge of the Supreme Court should be appointed the commission’s head to thoroughly investigate the characters who have signed the deal with Broadsheet to trace out Sharif’s and Zardari’s properties abroad.

According to the Arbitration under Chartered Institute of Arbitration Rules, Sir Anthony Evans noted that during the period of Asset Recovery Agreement (ARA), there were three chairmen of the NAB who acted as its principal representatives in its relations with Broadsheet.

These were, Lt General Syed Muhammad Amjad from the inception of the NAB in October 1999 until September 2000.

Lt Gen Amjad was the only witness with firsthand knowledge of the negotiation and signing of the ARA, as the first chairman of the NAB.

Second, Lt-General Khalid Maqbool from 26th September 2000 until 26 October 2001 and third, Lt-General Munir Hafiez from 1st November 2001 until October 2005.

These three, therefore, covered the whole period of the ARA, including its negotiation and signature (Gen Amjad) and its termination (Gen Hafiez).

Nawid Ahsan, who held office from 6th July 2007 until 14th June 2010, was not concerned at any time with the negotiation, signing or performance of the ARA.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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