Ali Zafar has concluded what govt didn’t hope for

The News

ISLAMABAD: Senator Ali Zafar has determined after conducting fact-finding that Jehangir Khan Tareen is being unfairly targeted by the government agencies, a conclusion that has been contested by the prime minister’s camp during a meeting held in this regard. A formal report hasn’t been submitted yet; however its key findings have been shared.

The News has learnt that Ali Zafar shared his findings during a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan and Advisor to PM on Accountability Shehzad Akbar were also present in the meeting. Ali Zafar concluded that the charges against Tareen don’t hold much substance and that he was further targeted through the registration of FIRs against him and his son.

His findings didn’t go uncontested. Shehzad Akbar was asked to give alternative facts in defense of FIA action and Khalid Javed Khan acted as an umpire between the two, according to the sources. Ali Zafar was told that FIRs were registered in line with the recommendations of the Sugar Inquiry Commission. Again, the FIRs were not registered against Tareen, rather, all those held accused are facing the action, and he was further told. After hearing both sides, the Attorney General voted in favour of Shehzad Akbar and held that actions against Tareen were fair.

‘The News’ sent questions to Ali Zafar and Shehzad Akbar both but neither of them responded. The Attorney General is also tightlipped on this matter. However, he told another journalist that he is the referee in this matter and whatever will be decided by Ali Zafar requires approval from him (AG). In the case under question, he is not ready to accept Ali Zafar’s findings thus increasing the likelihood that the report will never be formalised, let alone making it public. (The above-mentioned discussion was based on the key findings; he didn’t formally share final draft of the report.)

On the other hand, Tareen sees Ali Zafar’s report as the only ray of hope for him. No matter it remains inconsequential for the cases against him; he wants this to be made public. Doing so will dent the government’s efforts to damage him, his close aides believe. On the other hand, the government officials believe that publicising Ali Zafar’s report will tarnish beyond repair its anti-corruption mantra. Not only Tareen but all those implicated on different charges under the watch of Imran Khan will consider themselves vindicated.

Imran believes that he wasn’t unfair with Tareen by any moral standard. In the above-mentioned meeting, it is learned, the prime minister was very candid in his views about Tareen who, he said, commanded a lot of influence in the present set up in the beginning. His disqualification notwithstanding, I made several high-profile appointments on his recommendation, PM is said to have told the meeting. He himself was appointed the Chairman of Agriculture Task Force, he further said of Tareen. Then time came when the floor and sugar shortage occurred and people started blaming the premier by accusing Tareen for his alleged involvement.

Regarding the likely arrest of Tareen, prime minister is said to have assured that this would not happen under his watch. Instead, he countered allegations of victimisation by saying that other accused are not being arrested because Tareen has not been arrested. However, it has been learned that FIA had proposed the arrest of all the accused and said the matter would resolve in two weeks this way. However, the real power players were opposed to the move who said any such act would send a negative message in the business community already scared of accountability drive.

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