The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has launched a formal probe against Dr Tahirul Qadri, head of Minhajul Quran International (MQI), after it obtained evidence relating to the source of the massive funding that has sustained his dharna in Islamabad since his dramatic arrival in Pakistan.
The agency obtained the evidence, along with a video regarding the massive amounts of funding the influential scholar and his party has received.
Sources familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune that after receiving directions from the ‘top level’, the FIA has started investigations into the source of the funding, including the vast scale media campaign and the long march turned sit-in that is into its third consecutive day.
The task has been assigned to the additional director-general FIA, who has started the probe and sought details from the State Bank of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue and other concerned agencies. The FIA has also approached Hawala dealers who deal in remitting money from abroad through illegal means.
Sources said the FIA has also approached the Financial Management Unit. The scope of the investigation involves examining all suspicious transactions, including remittances channeled through the Hawala system and even through legal banking channels.
The probe has been launched on the basis of complaints, source reports and reports appearing in media outlets questioning the source of funding that has sustained the long march, sit-in and the advertisement campaigns aggressively launched in the print and electronic media involving millions of rupees on a daily basis.
The agency is also inquiring into violations of the Foreign Exchange Regulations allegedly committed by Dr Qadri and the MQI in Pakistan and abroad, as well as individuals who donated and remitted money via illegal channels.
Sources told The Express Tribune that the FIA could seek the help of the Special Branch of Punjab Police, Social Welfare Department Punjab, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and some other provincial and federal institutions to shed light on the funding both locally and internationally.
A joint-investigation team is likely to be constituted after receiving the required information. The available records with the FIA will also be scrutinised and examined, a top FIA official said on condition of anonymity.
The PPP-led federal government has also sought the Canadian government’s help regarding details of the NGO operating under the supervision of Dr Qadri in Canada, along with the manifesto and mandate of the NGO as well as its origin of funding.
In a meeting with Canadian High Commissioner Greg Giokas on Monday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Giokas that the government might seek Ottawa’s help to uncover the origin of funding being spent by Dr Qadri in Pakistan. During the meeting, Malik said that MQI was a religious institution, but was being used for political purposes.
An official handout issued by the interior ministry stated that the interior minister expressed his apprehensions to the high commissioner that Pakistanis were questioning the funding. “Hence an inquiry has been ordered against him under the law of the land, and the government of Pakistan may seek the help of the Canadian Government in this respect within the parameters of international law,” the handout stated.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2013.