The rigmarole over the posting of an additional director general of the FIA, which has played out over the last few months between the executive and judiciary, has taken yet another twist.
Finally reinstated on Friday by the Supreme Court to the post of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s lead investigator of a multibillion rupee scam, Zafar Qureshi was sent packing once again on Monday – this time in the form of a suspension.
Suspending Qureshi, the interior ministry has sought an explanation on alleged violation of discipline on his part, which, if not satisfactory, could lead to his termination from service.
An inquiry into the possible termination of Quershi will be headed by Shafqat Nagmi, a grade-22 District Management Group (DMG) officer, and is to be completed within a week.
A brief history
Previously, the outspoken Qureshi was infamously removed as the lead investigator into the multibillion rupee National Insurance Company Limited (NICL) scandal few months ago by the government. A number of high-profile names had surfaced in the investigations into the scandal.
The Supreme Court then or dered that he be reposted by the authorities.
After weeks of delay, and the prime minister’s refusal to implement the order, the court itself had Qureshi reinstated on Friday.
However, the reposting lasted for only two days, with Qureshi being suspended for violating the service discipline.
The move came soon after a meeting between Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at the Prime Minister House. Elahi’s son, Moonis Elahi, has long been suspected of being a central figure in the NICL scandal.
Sources said that the meeting was also attended by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. They added that the PML-Q leaders threatened to leave the Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition, which has already suffered the loss of its key partner the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.
The PML-Q’s exit, hence, would mean that the government would not have simple majority in parliament.
Build up to the latest suspension
Sources familiar with the matter said that, after being reposted by the Supreme Court on Friday, and taking charge of his office the following day on July 2, Qureshi was delivered a message, that he was to meet Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday. Malik had been abroad for the past few days.
Hours after the message, a show-cause notice, served on the officer concerned at 2am on July 3, sought an explanation from Qureshi for issuing statements to the media as well as assuming the charge of additional director-general FIA and assuming the charge of lead investigation officer in the NICL case without being notified by the establishment division.
In the meeting with Malik on Sunday, sources The Express Tribune that Qureshi had allegedly given three options: Go on long leave, declare that Moonis Elahi was “not guilty” or face severe action.
It was said that Qureshi did not respond favourably.
Qureshi had refuted charges of interacting with the media, explaining that copies of the order were sent to the secretary interior, DG FIA and the registrar of the Supreme Court, saying that this increased the chance of it being leaked to the media. He also explained that he had not done anything on his own and he was only complying with orders of the apex court. He said that he had neither called any press conference nor issued any press statement in this regard.
The show-cause notice asked Qureshi to explain his position and “why you should not be proceeded against under the government servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules of 1973 for misconduct.
“Prima-facie your…actions appear (to be) in sheer violation of provisions of Rules 18 and 22 of the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1964.
“You were accordingly given a fair chance rendering an explanation within 24 hours” of receiving the notice failing which “you would render yourself liable to be preceded against under the rules.
“Your explanation…was examined at the competent level and after due consideration was found unsatisfactory. (Therefore, the) competent authority has been pleased to order to place you under suspension with immediate effect.”
The suspension, according to a senior official, was issued by the interior ministry – but should have been issued by the establishment division, which presents an element of illegality.
This could prove to be a technical glitch in the process.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2011.