Former FIA DG says was told to file terrorism case against Maryam’s social media cell ‘by highest office’

Dawn

Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) former director general Bashir Memon has alleged that during his tenure, he was summoned to the “highest office” and was told to file a terrorism case against members of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz’s social media cell after a picture of the first lady was circulated on social media.

Memon had resigned on November 20, 2019, days before he was supposed to retire as a mark of protest against being posted out close to his retirement date.

In an interview with journalist Matiullah Jan, the first part of which was uploaded on the latter’s YouTube channel on Monday, Memon said: “There was a picture on social media, regarding which they [said] that a terrorism case should be filed. It was a picture of the first lady [uploaded] on social media. How is this terrorism? There is a definition of terrorism in law. It was a normal picture, how was that terrorism?”

When asked who told him to file a terrorism case, Memon said that he was summoned by the “highest office in Pakistan”. Jan asked if Prime Minister Imran Khan had attended the meeting Memon was summoned for but the former DG refused to take names. “I said the highest office,” he reiterated.

“[They told me] to take action on this against [Maryam Nawaz’s] social media cell. I didn’t say that this couldn’t be done. I said, under which law? Because we have to work according to the law.”

He added that the government’s “expectations” which it had from the FIA “are being fulfilled”. In response to a question, Memon said that the government expected the FIA to “do exactly what NAB (National Accountability Bureau) has done”.

“Especially regarding his son-in-law captain Safdar […] just what NAB is doing with him,” he said.

He also said that the authorities wanted FIA to pursue corruption cases against PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif, his sons and his entire family including his relatives.

When asked why he refused to pursue those cases, he said: “There were two reasons. One, I didn’t have the inquiries. Second, this was the mandate of the provincial anti-corruption [unit].” He recalled that he was sent to Lahore where a meeting was convened by Punjab chief secretary Akbar Durrani and attended by all secretaries as well. Memon added that he was provided with the record of the case he had been asked to take up.

“End of the day, I told them that all of this is the mandate of provincial anti-corruption [unit]. They can do this, we cannot. Because FIA is a law enforcement agency. A law enforcement agency will [handle issues related to] law. We will remain within our mandate. We can’t go and jump around, in my opinion,” Memon said.

Memon said that the premier had criticised him for not pursuing cases against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s family.

“[The PM said] ‘you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that, you released that person etc’ and all I said was ‘sir NAB is there’ [to pursue these cases],” the former FIA chief said.

Later in the interview, Memon said that the cases that were first referred to FIA were later transferred to the NAB. He said that the reason behind referring the cases to FIA first may have been that “they (authorities) feel that we are more competent”.

“However, I always said that this is what the law says and this is what it doesn’t. We have to work according to the law,” he told Jan. He further said that after NAB picked up the cases which were initially being probed by FIA, he was “relieved of that pressure”.

“Regarding NAB cases, whenever I hear the remarks and the verdicts that are given […] I say that God wanted to protect my dignity. In this age, all you care about is your respect,” he said.

He also talked about a “peculiar case” against PML-N leader Khawaja Asif, in which it was alleged that the latter was working for a company in Dubai while he was defence and foreign minister. The former FIA official said that it was suggested that a treason case against Asif should be lodged over the allegation.

“I’m not saying that [this is not possible]. But we need evidence for that,” he said and added that there was no available evidence when he was told to file the case. When asked who told him that such a case should be filed, he said it was said during a cabinet meeting and was included in the minutes.

“Cabinet had asked to carry out an inquiry. We did that but could not find evidence,” he explained.

He also mentioned a meeting, which was also attended by the prime minister, in which officials of government regretted that Karachi Electric was “ruined”. Memon said that FIA had proven that K-Electric had to return Rs87 billion to Sui Southern Gas Limited and that the money should be recovered.

“In his (prime minister’s) opinion, FIA did wrong by conducting this investigation [against KE]. That this investigation should not have been conducted,” Memon claimed. He said that in his last meeting with the prime minister, the latter “got emotional” and berated Memon for not pursuing cases against certain politicians.

“I told him ‘my retirement is three months away and I am a Grade 22 officer. There is no higher post than DG FIA and no higher grade than 22. This is how it will work […] I don’t care. For God’s sake, don’t do this’,” Memon claimed.

He said that he had served as the inspector general of police in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, where he served under current Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider and Chaudhry Majeed before that. Nawaz had interviewed him for the post, Memon said and added during his tenure as IGP, he had met the former premier a few times on his visits to the region as part of protocol.

He was appointed as FIA DG when PML-Ns’ Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was in office, Memon said adding that he had only met him once.

“He never called, he never summoned and never gave me a task,” Memon said. He said that Abbasi had only called him for a meeting days before the PML-N government completed his term. The FIA had served MQM-P’s Khawaja Sohail Mansoor with a notice in a case pertaining to money laundering, which he deemed as unfair. Following Mansoor’s complaint, Abbasi had summoned Memon in his capacity as premier.

“I’ll never forget what Abbasi said, he must have forgotten but I haven’t […] Abbasi said that ‘Memon sahib you’ve served Khawaja Sohail Mansoor a notice and now he does not let us run the House’. I am a blunt man and often say things that people don’t like and that have harmed me in my career. I told him (Abbasi): ‘Sir your job is to run the House, my job is to enforce the law’.

“He didn’t mind. He appreciated it. He said that: ‘Our mistake, as politicians, is that we get used to listening to ‘yes’. We don’t look for officers like you.'”

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, Information Minister Shibli Faraz, in response to a question said that he did not know on whose “behalf” Bashir was speaking.

“The prime minister does not get into such things,” Faraz said.

PML-N demands PM resignation

Meanwhile, the PML-N called for the premier to resign over the allegations levelled by the former FIA director general.

Addressing the media in Islamabad, the party’s spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Tuesday that if Pakistan was truly a state of Madina, Imran would tender his resignation as premier and a case under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution would be filed against him.

She said that after the premier failed to get Memon to act on his directives, he turned his attention towards the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman. “Memon said [in the interview] that everything that is happening currently, he was told to do. After he refused, the NAB-Niazi nexus was formed,” she said.

She added that the interview had also raised a question mark on the role of the bureau’s chairman.

Commenting on the sedition case registered against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, she maintained that the FIR was filed by misusing authority. “This is how the state is being used.”

In light of these revelations, Aurangzeb called for the release of Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz — both facing NAB cases. She also appealed for Memon to be provided security, as there was no telling the “extent to which the prime minister would go to”.

“You can expect anything from him,” she said.

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