The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) was ridiculed on Thursday as the interior secretary preferred to attend a meeting with “proscribed” Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) than PAC while the capital’s chief commissioner arrived late, DG Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) came unprepared and DG Rangers and IG Islamabad as well as Frontier Constabulary remained absent.
“DG Rangers has gone for a meeting with “proscribed” organization [TLP],” Interior Additional Secretary Muhammad Ayub Chaudhry told PAC.
“The secretary interior has also gone to Lahore to attend the meeting with banned organization,” PAC chairman Rana Tanveer Hussain interjected while making it clear that no official below the rank of 20 could attend PAC.
“They have gone to strengthen the banned organization,” PPP’s Sherry Rehman quipped. “If such a process continues then, God forbid, the state will turn into a banned entity someday,” PML-N’s Khawaja Asif added.
As the committee moved forward with the audit paras of the Ministry of Interior for the year 2019-20 regarding paras pertaining to Pakistan Rangers Sindh, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration and police and IG of FC, it emerged that they were all absent from the meeting.
The absence irked PAC and the chairman decided to write letters of displeasure to the heads of the departments. “This is no joke. It’s PAC,” Tanveer thundered, adding “all of you are accountable here, this is parliament.”
“Are you above the law and parliament?” Tanveer asked after taking a pause.
What came next was even shocking for PAC as DG FIA Sanaullah Abbasi, who was tasked to brief PAC on the progress report on all 137 paras and matters referred by the PAC, did not even know the total amount involved in the paras.
To add insult to injury, the revelation came when the DG FIA was being lauded for doing “good work” and giving a “good presentation” to PAC.
“The progress is good,” Senator Talha Mehmood said after Tanveer expressed that FIRs were registered, recoveries were made and investigations were going on in the matters referred by PAC.
PTI’s Munaza Hassan and PPP’s Hina Rabbani Khar, however, started finding lacunas in the presentation to the extent that the PAC, including the chairman, started questioning the veracity of the numbers given in it.
Munaza pointed out that the total number of paras related to Islamabad were 35 leading into 24 inquiries and turning into 11 cases with zero persons involved in them.
Next column states, she said, 30 persons were arrested and over Rs34 million were recovered from them. “How can this happen that number of people involved is zero but 30 people were arrested,” she questioned.
Though the DG FIA was quick to admit the mistake, Hina questioned the veracity of the presentation, saying “this presentation is a very good example of how not to make presentations.”
Read More: Punjab cabinet gives nod for lifting ban on TLP
Hina’s next question completely changed the mood of the PAC. “What is the total amount of these cases,” she asked while sharing the FIA numbers that total 137 paras were sent to it and Rs1.7 billion were recovered.
“Before celebrating how good the performance is I think we have to have the total amount before us,” she said.
“I don’t have figures right now; I can answer the question later on,” Abbasi told PAC much to its surprise.
“This is exactly my point; if you don’t know the amount that was sent to you in the first place to give us a presentation on, then do you think you are qualified to be called prepared,” Hina said.
Abbasi first said the number was 24,000 million then, with the help of his subordinates, corrected it to 2,400 million.
PAC felt the next jolt when the DG FIA revealed that he had taken four briefings in 15 days before appearing before the PAC.
“I can come back with all the numbers and details. I am not the one who will run away. If there is a mistake I will concede and confess because I feel I am accountable to the parliamentarians,” Abbasi said.
PTI’s Noor Alam Khan while complaining to the PAC chairman that he was always soft on people said that those who came before PAC were not giving any favours. Instead those coming unprepared were showing negligence on their part.
The Auditor General for Pakistan incorporated that the audit office was “in total blank” about the number of people arrested and recoveries made in the cases sent to FIA and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
“Neither it is in your [PAC] notice nor on credit,” the AGP said.
“I prefer to send paras to FIA than NAB,” Tanveer said, saying NAB had its own issues.
As the discussion went on, Asif noted that the security officials expelled an “irrelevant person” from the meeting room.
“Unauthorized people sit here and then boast about the things that are discussed in PAC outside,” Asif lamented.
The meeting ended with PAC chairman reiterating that a letter of displeasure should be written to the heads of departments stating clearly that they must appear in person before the accountability arm of the parliament.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ