Minister for Law Dr Farogh Naseem and Adviser to the PM on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar have vehemently rejected the claims recently made by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) former director general Bashir Memon – with Akbar also serving Memon a legal notice.
Both the federal minister and the adviser took to micro-blogging site Twitter on Wednesday to refute the allegations leveled by the FIA former official in a television interview a day earlier.
Talking to the host of a private news channel on Tuesday, Bashir Memon whipped up a political storm by claiming that Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as Dr Naseem and Akbar had asked him to start an investigation against the Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa – a request that he squarely rejected.
“I completely refute baseless allegations leveled by Bashir Memon,” Dr Naseem said in a series of posts. “I have never discussed any issue regarding Justice Qazi Faez Isa with Bashir Memon.
The minister said Akbar, Memon and Azam Khan, the PM’s secretary, never came to his office together. He claimed that Azam Khan had only come to his office only once to discuss legal reforms.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan, Azam Khan or Shahzad Akbar have never ever stated to me that they have discussed anything with Bashir Memon about Justice Isa,” the law minister said.
The PM’s aide on accountability was also quick in responding to the interview.
2.Azam Khan, Shehzad Akber and Bashir Memon have never come to my office together. Azam Khan has only come to my office once and that was all by himself only to discuss legal reforms. 2/3— Barrister Dr. Farogh Naseem (@Farogh_NaseemPK) April 27, 2021
“Just seen absolute rubbish uttered by Bashir Memon... He was never called for any meeting with the PM or myself on the QFI [Qazi Faez Isa] issue, and there was no meeting with the law minister and him as he claims. Similarly he was never told to start any case against any specific individual,” Akbar said.
He said the only case that the federal cabinet had referred to the FIA was that of sedition.
Mirza Shahzad Akbar later also posted the copy of the legal notice of Rs50, 00,00,000 that he has served on the FIA former DG “for his lies and slanderous accusations with mala fide and without any evidence”.
“I firmly believe in the rule of law and he [Memon] shall be answerable before a court of law for his slander,” he added.
According to Memon, he was called to the Prime Minister's Office for a meeting where the premier told him that he was "a very good officer" who has been registering “good cases” in the past and that he should “take courage” and register a good case this time as well.
He said, "At that time, I was not aware of the nature of the case and whom I was supposed to proceed against". Memon claimed that it was at Shahzad Akbar's office that it was revealed to him that he is to proceed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
3. Prime Minister Imran Khan, Azam Khan or Shehzad Akber have never ever stated to me that they have discussed anything with Bashir Memon about Justice Isa.— Barrister Dr. Farogh Naseem (@Farogh_NaseemPK) April 27, 2021
4. Rights are reserved 3/3
The FIA former chief also claimed that he later visited Dr Naseem's office as well. "Naseem was also convinced that a case should be made against Justice Isa and asked me to play a role," he stated.
Memon said he tried to convince them that what he was being asked to do was not possible as Justice Isa is a Supreme Court judge. The former FIA officer alleged that Dr Naseem wanted to proceed against Justice Isa on the grounds of money laundering.
"They said it was my mandate. My opinion was that the SJC [Supreme Judicial Council] could do this, or it could ask us to proceed, but the FIA could not do this at the government's request," he added.
The federal government in May 2019 moved a presidential reference in the SJC, claiming that Justice Isa had committed misconduct by not disclosing his family member’s foreign assets in his wealth statement.
Justice Isa challenged the SJC proceedings and the apex court on June 19, 2020 quashed the reference but referred the matter to the Federal Board of Revenue for an inquiry. The judge filed a review petition against the order and the apex court in a rare development set aside its June 19 order on Monday.
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.— Mirza Shahzad Akbar (@ShazadAkbar) April 27, 2021
My lawyers have issued legal notice to Bashir Memon for his lies n slanderous accusations with malafide and without any evidence. I firmly believe in rule of law n he shall be answerable before a court of law for his slander. pic.twitter.com/eL7GFXc8jx— Mirza Shahzad Akbar (@ShazadAkbar) April 28, 2021
Ex-FIA DG's claims
Speaking to a private news channel, the former FIA DG claimed that he was called to the Prime Minister's Office for a meeting where the premier told him that he was "a very good officer", advising him to "have strength".
He added that, "At the time, I was not aware of the nature of the case and whom I was to proceed against [and] that it would concern a judge of the apex court."
According to Memon, it was at Shahzad Akbar's office that it was revealed to him that he is to proceed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. Memon also claimed to have later visited Naseem's office.
"Naseem was also convinced that a case should be made against Justice Isa and asked me to play a role," he stated.
The ex-FIA officer further said that he tried explaining how what he was being asked to do was not possible as Justice Isa was a Supreme Court judge. "This is the job of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and it has the constitutional authority. It does not fall within the FIA's terms of reference (TORs)."
"How can the FIA and the police, which is a law enforcement agency, do something that is illegal and especially that which concerns a judge of the apex court?"
According to Memon, Naseem wanted to proceed against Justice Isa on the grounds of money laundering. "Their [stance] was that it was my mandate. My opinion was that the SJC could do this, or it could ask us to proceed, but the FIA could not do this at the government's request."
Responding to the question regarding whether FBR official Ashfaq Ahmed, who Memon claimed was also present during the meetings, was convinced on filing a case against Justice Isa, Memon said: "Whether it warrants a case or not is another matter. I didn't have the powers and I was of the opinion that this would go beyond my TORs."
According to Memon’s claims, the FBR official thought that he could proceed against Justice Isa. "I told him to go ahead [but asked] what do you get out of it? What are you doing with yourself?"
Commenting on Ahmed's denial of any such meeting taking place, Memon said: "I say let's have an open inquiry. Two to three years have passed since this happened, you can verify the dates."
Justice Isa off the hook
In a rare development, the Supreme Court -- with a majority of 6 to 4 -- allowed on Monday the review petitions filed against its June 19, 2020 order for the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into the foreign properties of the family members of apex court judge Qazi Faez Isa.
With this verdict, Justice Isa – who is in line to become the chief justice of Pakistan – is vindicated of the allegations leveled in a June 2020 presidential reference that claimed that the apex court judge had committed misconduct by not disclosing his family members foreign assets in his wealth statement.
"By majority of six to four [Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajad Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed dissenting], these review petitions, except as mentioned below, are allowed," said the order, announced by head of a 10-judge bench Umar Ata Bandial on Monday.
Justice Yahya Afridi dismissed the review petition filed by Justice Isa but allowed the other review petitions filed by Justice Isa’s wife Sarina Isa and superior bars against June 19 order.
‘Revelation endorses my viewpoint on NAB-Niazi nexus’
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif has said the startling revelations made by the former FIA chief endorsed what he has been saying for a long time about “unmistakable NAB-Niazi nexus”.
In a tweet, the younger of the Sharif brothers said that there is an unmistakable NAB-Niazi nexus that has been out to make forged cases against the PML-N and put its leaders behind bars. “The farce stands exposed,” he added.
The startling revelations by former DG FIA have endorsed what I have been saying for a long time: there is an unmistakable NAB-Niazi nexus that has been out to make forged cases against the PMLN & put its leaders behind bars. The farce stands exposed.— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) April 28, 2021