Record statement or face arrest, ex-PM told

Senior FIA official says ex-PM will be asked to explain his position to help the law take its course.


Arif Rana July 16, 2013
Former PM and PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:


The countdown has begun for ex-prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has issued a final notice to Gilani to record his statement in the multi-billion rupee Hajj scam on July 16 (today) or face arrest, it has been learnt.


Sources told the Express Investigation Cell (EIC) that the notice reminds the former premier of the paramount importance of his statement for completion of the fraud investigations. Gilani has been conveyed through the notice that failure in showing up will result in his arrest.

The FIA had served three notices to Gilani in the Hajj corruption case and illegal appointments of Rao Shakeel and Zain Sukhaira; but he refused to appear before it or record his statement. He claimed that as prime minister he had the authority to appoint any person for any position and that he enjoyed immunity from any investigations under provision of the Article 248 of the Constitution.

However, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, during the last hearing of the case, rejected Gilani’s claim. The apex court observed that no one, including Gilani, could claim immunity under Article 248 of the constitution and it was for the court to decide on the issue. After this clear directive, Gilani had no option except to surrender to the FIA or face arrest in this high-profile case.



The FIA wanted to investigate Gilani for misusing his authority by appointing Rao Shakeel Rao as director general Hajj and Zain Sukharia a front man for Abdul Qadir Gilani, his elder son in 2010.  Rao Shakeel has been behind bars since 2011, while the PPP government’s minister for Hajj, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, was also arrested in the case.

The Hajj corruption scandal has been haunting Gilani since 2011. Its many characters have held him responsible of the scam in their statements given to the FIA. The former prime minster has also to face the allegations of the officials who played a role in Shakeel Rao and Zain Sukhaira’s appointments.

“We will present the statements of different characters hinting at the role of Yousaf Raza Gilani in the Hajj scam and ask him to explain his position to help the law take its course,” a senior FIA official said.

The statements of former principal secretary, Nargis Sethi, and former Establishment Division Secretary Ismael Qureshi are of paramount importance in the Hajj corruption case. During the FIA investigations, these two senior officials had conceded that Gilani was solely and individually responsible for illegal appointments of Rao Shakeel and Zain Sukharia. Zain Sukhaira who later turned out to be a front man for Abdul Qadir Gilani had also confessed that his London University PhD in IT degree was forged.

A one-page summary, moved by former IT and Telecom Secretary Najib Malik, had intriguing details about the working style of Yousaf Raza Gilani. He personally obliged officials who followed his illegal orders and fixed up those who resisted his directives as prime minister. Mian Zulqairnain, the then joint secretary of IT and Telecom and many other senior government officials, paid a heavy price for resisting illegal orders for appointment of Zain Sukhaira. The PPP government victimised dutiful officials by leaving them out for promotion.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2013.

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