ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem and Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Tuesday denied serious allegations levelled by ex-DG FIA Bashir Memon.
Memon, speaking on the Geo News programme Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath once again said he was asked by the prime minister himself to file cases against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other Opposition leaders, during his tenure as the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) director-general.
Memon said Naseem and Akbar also wanted him to proceed against Justice Isa on money laundering charges, but he had refused to do so as, according to the ex-DG FIA, the agency had no grounds to do so especially in the matter of a Supreme Court judge.
Law minister Naseem and PM Imran Khan’s advisor Akbar have both rubbished the former FIA chief’s claim
In response to a question, Memon said he met the prime minister one day where the premier told him he was a “very good officer” and told him to pursue cases against corrupt people. The former DG FIA said he did not know later he would be asked to file a case against Justice Isa.
The ex-DG FIA said he wasn’t sure what the prime minister was referring to. It was then that he was taken to the office of the premier’s advisor on accountability, Akbar.
Memon said it was in Akbar’s office that he got to know the case PM Imran was referring to was to be filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The ex-DG FIA said he told Akbar categorically that it was not possible for him to do that.
The former FIA chief said he was then taken to the law minister’s office where Naseem was also convinced a case against Justice Isa could be filed. He said there, Dr Ashfaque of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was also present.
Memon claimed Dr Ashfaque was in possession of some data which Naseem believed could be used to file a case against Justice Isa. However, Memon said he told them point-blank that it was not possible for him to book the Supreme Court judge.
Naseem disagreed, said Memon, adding that he was of the view that the FIA and the FBR could cooperate and make a case against the judge on the basis of the data Dr Ashfaque had with him. Naseem, according to Memon, said he would contest the case himself in court.
Memon says he ‘put his foot down’
The ex-DG FIA said he had to “put his foot down”, and told them (Farogh Nasim, Shahzad Akbar, and Azam Khan, who was also present there according to him) that the rules concerning the judiciary’s internal affairs were quite clear. He made it clear that acting against a judge was beyond the terms of reference (ToRs) of the FIA.
“I have never conducted an inquiry to this day nor can I do it. They may have believed I am misinterpreting the law,” he said, adding that the police is a law-enforcement agency hence it cannot take any illegal action.
“I had also consulted with the legal team [of the FIA] which also held that my stance is right,” said Bashir.
Memon says PM wanted him to go after PML-N leadership and other Opposition leaders
Referring to his various official meetings with the prime minister, Memon alleged the premier had repeatedly instructed him to go after top PML-N leaders, including the two Sharif brothers, Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanaullah, Marriyum Aurangzeb and former foreign minister Khawaja Asif.
Memon alleged that PPP leaders Khurshid Shah and Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar were also on the prime minister’s target list, adding that he also wanted the FIA to arrest Awami National Party (ANP) chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and PML-N leader Amir Muqam.
Memon said he told the prime minister that the police arrested suspects on the basis of evidence and inquiry, adding that he told PM Imran the FIA needed evidence to proceed against anyone. Memon alleged the premier always used to tell him “not to spare the Opposition”.
He said when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, Memon alleged the prime minister taunted him by saying: “Look, you couldn’t do it [arrest Shahbaz], but NAB did it in one day.”
He rejected the notion that there was a “soft corner” in his heart for leaders of the PML-N.
“Why will I have a soft corner on my heart for the PML-N? The PML-N [leadership] doesn’t even know me,” he said, adding he had met former prime minister Nawaz Sharif only when he was on protocol duty at the airport and Sharif was the premier at the time.
Govt wanted to lodge a treason case against Khawaja Asif: Memon
He then delved into the case of PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, saying it wasn’t a crime to hold an Iqamah since it is only a work permit. Memon added that the charges of terrorism could not be included against someone solely on the basis that he/she held an Iqamah.
The former FIA chief said the government wanted to lodge a treason case against the PML-N leader. but he told them that the agency would have to prove such a serious allegation and back it up with evidence, in court.
“It is the government that can allow invoking Article 6 of the Constitution,” he said, adding that the government’s team did seek permission from the cabinet and was able to obtain it.
Memon said he was then asked in a meeting with the cabinet to get ahold of some records that proved Asif had some loans waived off.
The ex-DG FIA alleged that the government wanted him to arrest Asif immediately. However, Memon said he once again opposed it, saying that the agency could not do so.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif and the first lady’s picture
He accused the cabinet of demanding the arrest of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz as well, adding that the government wanted him to book her for terrorism over a press conference she did.
Memon said the government had instructed him to file a case on the basis that Maryam had terrorised a judge by holding a press conference.
The former FIA chief said holding a press conference was not an act of terrorism, adding that the Supreme Court had clearly spelled out the definition of terrorism in one of its earlier verdicts.
Memon said the government wanted him to file a terrorism case against Maryam Nawaz also in relation to another charge; someone had posted a picture of the first lady on social media.
“They [government] told me it was the first lady hence, a terrorism case should be filed against Maryam Nawaz,” he said.
Memon said it was a “normal picture” of the first lady, adding that it was a non-cognizable offence.
“They however, told me it was the first lady [in the picture] and asked me to link it to terrorism,” he alleged.
“I told them, ‘For God’s sake, whether is the first lady or anyone else, where is it written [that this constitutes a terrorism charge]?'” said Memon.
‘Saudi Arabia is a kingdom, Pakistan is a democracy’
The former DG FIA said PM Imran Khan admired the way Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ran his kingdom. He said once, the prime minister told him:
“You keep citing the law, but the Saudi authorities do what the crown prince tells them to do,” he said.
“I told the prime minister that Saudi Arabia is a kingdom whereas Pakistan is a democracy,” he said.
Memon said he explained to the prime minister that the FIA has to first take up a complaint filed by someone, gather evidence to register an FIR and then proceeding with arresting a suspect. He said it was also then up to the agency to take the case towards conviction in a court of law.
When asked whether he was willing to go to the apex court to record a statement relating to his allegations, Memon said: “The Supreme Court can summon anyone anytime. If I am served a summon, I will definitely go and share with them whatever happened.”
Akbar, Naseem refute Memon’s allegations
Reacting to Memon’s statement, PM Imran’s adviser on accountability Akbar vehemently rejected the claims. He said Memon had committed “slander” and said he had directed his lawyers to initiate legal action against the former head of the FIA.
“Just seen absolute rubbish uttered by Bashir Memon on Shahzeb show. He was never called for any meeting with PM or myself on QFI (Qazi Faez Isa) issue, and there was no meeting with law minister and him as he claims. Similarly he was never told to start any case against any specific individual. Only case referred to FIA was of sedition by the fed cabinet. I have instructed lawyers in personal capacity to initiate legal action for his slander.”
Law minister Naseem said all allegations levelled by Memon were false and baseless, adding that he never spoke a word to the former DG FIA about Justice Isa. He also pinpointed that Azam Khan, Shahzad Akbar and Bashir Memon had never showed up at his office, contrary to Memon’s allegations.
“PM Imran Khan, Azam Khan, or Shahzad Akbar never told me that they had a word about Justice Isa with Bashir Memon,” he added.