PESHAWAR: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former provincial health minister Syed Zahir Ali Shah on Friday categorically rejected allegations of his involvement in the getaway of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) former chairman Tauqeer Sadiq.
Sadiq is currently in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for his alleged involvement in misappropriation of Rs82 billion. The elusive ex-chief of Ogra escaped from Pakistan to Afghanistan in June last year along with his spouse and two daughters. He reportedly crossed the Torkham border to the neighbouring country from where he slipped to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he stayed for over a year before finally being extradited to Pakistan on Tuesday morning.
“The news published in various newspapers and private TV channels are baseless. I have never even met Tauqeer Sadiq, let alone assist him to escape from the country,” Shah said while addressing a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club.
Referring to media reports accusing Shah of aiding Sadiq to cross the Torkham border, the former minister said he will lodge a defamation case against the newspapers and TV channels in question. Shah termed the reports an act to “malign” his political career by publishing unauthentic and unverified news. He also claimed this was a “character assassination attempt and a conspiracy against PPP.”
Urging authorities to carry out independent investigations into the allegations leveled against him, Shah said he will accept the punishment if proven guilty. “But if I’m not proven guilty, the court should take action against those media channels who ran this news.”
Shah questioned if the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar gave Tauqeer Sadiq a visa, why was NAB not interrogating the consulate’s officials. Shah maintained he was granting five days to the media outlets to produce evidence of his involvement in Sadiq’s escape, adding the former fugitive had not named Shah or any other person.
PPP district President Zulfiqar Afghani and Women Wing Provincial President Nighat Orakzai were also present on the occasion.
According to some reports published in certain media outlets, former ministers Rahim Dad Khan and Zahir Shah allegedly helped Sadiq cross over to Afghanistan. They also allegedly arranged a visa for Kabul from where he flew to the UAE. One newspaper even claimed Shah let Sadiq stay at his residence in Peshawar for five days before he exited the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2013.