Accepting Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s offer, the Sindh government has asked the Centre to constitute a judicial commission to probe into the role of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the province.
“The Sindh government will appreciate if Chaudhry Nisar takes a bold initiative and constitutes a judicial commission [to probe] into FIA’s raids in Sindh,” said a provincial government spokesperson in a statement issued on Saturday.
Interior Minister Nisar said on February 18 that he was ready to order a judicial scrutiny of the FIA raids after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari criticised the agency’s graft hunt in Sindh, where his party is in power. “If the former president [Zardari] desires, I’m ready to conduct a judicial scrutiny of all corruption cases being probed by the FIA,” Nisar had said in a statement.
Saturday’s statement further read: “Findings of the commission will help remove misunderstandings on the issue of FIA’s and NAB’s jurisdictions/actions in Sindh.”
It said the Sindh government believes the FIA has no authority or jurisdiction to conduct raids on the offices of the provincial government, adding that the federal agency had taken away more than 15,000 files of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) without authority. It said the provincial government had its own mechanism to take action against corruption in its departments. The Sindh government deemed the FIA actions in Sindh as “a strode over move” of its limits and jurisdiction.
“The FIA, under a self-proclaimed authority, has taken over the role of anti-corruption in the limits of the provincial government which is unconstitutional, illegal and against the spirit of the 18th constitutional amendment,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying in the statement.
“This is a very good, pragmatic and bold offer on the part of the interior minister. The statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on NAB is also an acceptance of the Sindh government stance on NAB,” he said, adding that he hoped Nisar would soon constitute a judicial commission to end the row between the provincial and federal governments on the issue of FIA’s jurisdiction.
An interior ministry spokesperson, however, clarified that Chaudhry Nisar had made the offer not for any specific case but for all the cases the agency has taken up during his tenure of two and a half years.
The PPP leaders are trying to make the FIA investigation into corruption cases controversial through repeated unsubstantiated criticism, he said. In this context, the interior minister offered Zardari that if he wanted, a judicial commission could be constituted to look into all the FIA cases as these were free from all sorts of political considerations.
The spokesperson said that if the Sindh government has any reservation vis-à-vis the KMC case, then it can move the court. The interior ministry reiterates Chaudhry Nisar’s offer that if the PPP leadership wants, an application can be moved next week for a judicial commission and scrutiny of FIA cases.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2016.