Nothing Unusual About Hussain Nawaz’s Leaked Picture
It was surprising to watch the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) react to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), probing the Panama Papers trail. It was even more puzzling to hear their criticism of the treatment meted out to Hussain Nawaz Sharif. The outrage, in my opinion, was misplaced.
Let’s take another look at the picture circulating on the social media. The younger Sharif is captured dressed immaculately, sitting in an air-conditioned room being questioned by six learned professionals. There were no beads of perspiration. He was only required to answer, truthfully, the questions lobbed at him by the team.
It is important for Sharif and PML-N to be mindful of the realm of investigative procedures that are adopted by the investigating officers in Pakistan. The JIT has been empowered under the Criminal Procedure Code 1898 (CrPC) to investigate the Prime Minister, his sons and others. This Code has in the past been used by police officers to grill common citizens.
As a practising lawyer, I have witnessed several such investigations under the CrPC. It can be a nightmare for the accused, even before he or she is proven guilty. Sharif should be grateful that he is not a common citizen.
In Pakistan, criminal legislation is set into motion mainly through the registration of a First Information Report (FIR). Thereafter, the accused is immediately arrested, even if the arrest is not required.
During physical remand, one may be ‘tortured’ both mentally and physically. Once one is through with the first stages of agony, one is sent to judicial prisons and locked up with hardened criminals. Now, if the accused is lucky, and can afford an expensive lawyer, then he or she has a shot at getting bailed out, otherwise, he or she will have to take his or her chances before the higher courts. Needless to say that during this entire process there is continuous pressure upon the accused to settle with the complainant.
When the proceedings finally begin, they linger on indefinitely as the court waits for the police to submit their investigation report. This report can take a long time to be submitted. Till then, the accused will, in most cases, remain behind bars.
Sharif and others who are yearning for due process, fair trial and other enabling legal provisions must bear in mind that the Panama Papers case has been a special one from day one. It is being heard under a special provision of Article 184(3) whereby a JIT has been formed, which once again has to adopt a special procedure to investigate a special person.
People who have appeared before the probe have been treated with respect. The long hours of questioning are primarily due to the complexity of the case. If Sharif deserves a fair trial then so does every single citizen of Pakistan.
As a Pakistani, I earnestly want my elected Prime Minister to come out of this clean and untainted, but till then I wish that those called in would cooperate.
Previously published by Geo and republished here with permission.
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