Former Establishment secretary, Ismael Qureshi, asserted his innocence on Monday in the multi-billion dollar Hajj corruption case, while also blaming former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for the ‘illegal’ appointment of Rao Shakeel as director-general of Hajj affairs.
In a statement made to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) investigator Khalid Qureshi, Ismael said that Gilani has simply ignored his advice against Shakeel’s appointment. Similarly, he also says that Gilani went against his advice when he appointed Zain Sukhaira as Information Technology advisor.
Sukhaira is allegedly the front man for Abdul Qadir Gilani, the former premier’s son.
Sources also told the Express Investigation Cell (EIC) that Ismael made frequent changes to his statement during investigation. Ismael is facing serious charges, such as the concealing of facts and making illegal appointments.
In his statement, Ismael claimed that he had, in writing, informed Gilani that Shakeel was facing a reference for a record tempering case with the National Accountability Bureau’s Punjab office. For this reason, his appointment as D-G Hajj Affairs was not in line with appropriate rules and procedure. However, he said that Gilani had ignored his written note on the summary and appointed Shakeel in 2010.
Moreover, he held Gilani responsible for appointing Sukhaira as the IT ministry’s advisor despite his not having the required qualifications.
And yet, according to sources, the facts do not seem to match Ismael’s claims.
In written statements, officials of the Establishment Division informed the FIA that Ismael had concealed essential facts in the summary moved by him for the appointments of Shakeel and Sukhaira.
He failed to mention that Shakeel was on the Exit Control List, which is why his appointment, one that would take him to Jeddah, should not have gone through in any case.
He also did not mention that Shakeel was facing trial for record tampering, and that the case against him was strong.
The Supreme Court later took notice of both appointments, which were subsequently reversed. Speaking to the EIC, investigator Khalid said Ismael had been summoned to join the case inquiries on April 15, and that his Monday appearance was preliminary in nature.
“I can only confirm that Ismael Qureshi has joined investigations in the Hajj corruption case and, if required, he will be summoned again,” he said.
Khalid is a grade 21 officer, currently serving as the FIA’s deputy director-general. He replaced Hussain Asghar as an investigator on the Hajj corruption case, on the directives of the Supreme Court.
During the last hearing, it was Ismael who had requested the top court to have Asghar replaced.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2013.
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