The corruption scandal involving Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf took a tragic turn on Friday when an officer investigating the high-profile case was found dead at a hostel in the federal capital.
A day after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chief told the Supreme Court he did not yet have enough evidence to move against the prime minister and 15 others on accusations of graft, Faisal – one of the officers looking into alleged kickbacks by the premier in transactions involving rental power plants when he was power minister – was found dead in a government hostel where he lived with other NAB colleagues.
Faisal, who held the position of assistant director at the bureau, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his room at the federal lodge number 2.
Initial investigations indicated Faisal committed suicide, said Secretariat police. However, the officer’s family and friends insist that Faisal was not a man of “weak nerves”.
“Routine pressure and stresses are part of a NAB investigator’s daily life,” said a senior NAB officer, requesting anonymity, who said he had been working with Faisal for more than six months.
“He must have been under immense pressure if he has actually committed suicide. He was a strong man as I know him,” said the NAB officer.
Islamabad police officials say they found no evidence of a forced entry or signs of resistance in Faisal’s room. “It was locked from inside. The body was hanging from the ceiling fan. Besides, there was no other possible exit from the room,” said a senior police officer, who claimed that law enforcers had investigated the crime scene thoroughly before sealing it.
Inspector General of Police in Islamabad Bani Amin told reporters that the crime scene indicated that Faisal had committed suicide, while confirming that the body had been found.
“We are investigating [the case] from different angles… We will establish an opinion after the autopsy,” he said.
There were some contradictions when police officials were asked about how they were informed about Faisal’s death. The police claimed they were informed by NAB authorities who, on the contrary, said they were informed by the police.
However, the locked room was opened in the presence of Station House Officer (SHO) Secretariat police. Faisal’s body was then taken to Poly Clinic hospital, where a six-member board of doctors headed by Dr Iftikhar Ahmed Naru conducted an autopsy on it. The officer’s family did not want to conduct a post-mortem on the body but the police insisted, said a police official.
“It was a requirement in this case as the incident has to be probed,” he said.
Faisal, who leaves behind a widow and two daughters, was dispatched to his native town of Mian Channu for burial.
“The chairman and all NAB officers express their deepest condolences on the tragic demise of Kamran to his family,” said a statement released by a NAB spokesperson.
However, the timing of Faisal’s death raised many eyebrows in NAB and the legal fraternity – who questioned the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.
“We were together the previous evening and I noticed no signs of stress on Faisal. He was in his usual mood,” said an officer, who has been working alongside Faisal in the PM’s case.
“We ate together at the hostel. I did not notice any unusual about his behaviour,” said another NAB officer, who lived in the same government hostel.
Earlier, the Supreme Court bench hearing the rental power case was irked by the transfer of Faisal and another officer under the pretext of the “court’s displeasure”. In its January 15 order, the SC observed that the court never expressed displeasure over Faisal’s performance at any stage during the hearing of the RPPs case.
The court also observed that NAB failed to present any evidence that the court had made any such observation on Faisal’s performance.
“We issue notice to Chairman NAB to explain as to why he has falsely used the name of the SC with the view to remove the IOs (Investigations Officers) Asghar Ali and Kamran Faisal,” the court said in its judgment.
Faisal was one of the eight NAB officials, including the chairman of the bureau, who were issued contempt notices by the SC for non compliance of the judgment on the RPPs case. “But this contempt notice could not have led to committing suicide. The matter was solved,” said a NAB colleague of the deceased officer.
Meanwhile, police said they would lodge investigations into the incident after receiving a complete autopsy, including a chemical examination report.
“It will take a week or so and before this police cannot proceed with investigations,” said a police officer, adding that a case would only be registered after finding substantial evidence of Faisal’s death resulting from a criminal act.
Faisal’s uncle, Dr Tariq, quoted his father Chaudhry Abdul Hameed as saying that as Faisal was a man of steely nerves, he could not have committed suicide. Be that as it may, police officials said no family member or friend of Faisal’s had reported any threats to his life.
Faisal joined NAB in 2006 and served in Quetta till May 2011. After this, he opted to join the Federal Investigation Agency. However, he returned to NAB in May 2012, where he continued to serve until his death.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2013.