ISLAMABAD: Director Federal Investigation Agency Zafar Ahmad Qureshi has disclosed to the Supreme Court that he was being maligned by the Punjab government because he had the gall to summon top civilian aides of the Sharif brothers to record their statements for a probe into the alleged plot to murder the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court.
On the orders of the Supreme Court (SC) and Ministry of Interior, Qureshi was appointed inquiry officer in the probe into the alleged plot to assassinate Chief Justice Lahore High Court (LHC) Khawaja Muhammad Sharif. Qureshi had submitted his findings to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary, and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on November 2 regarding the assassination plot. The 449-page report said that, despite interviewing and investigating 41 officers/officials, the FIA could not find a single clue to establish the authenticity of the alleged “source report” issued by the Special Branch Punjab regarding the assassination plot, which was the basis of a story appearing in The News on September 11.
The inquiry report also revealed how Sub Inspector Shakeel Hassan, a cancer patient, was tortured, threatened and then offered a bribe to fall in line and confess before the inquiry commission that he had issued the source report. Hassan, however, did not oblige.
The report said that the Punjab government did not cooperate with Qureshi in his investigations or interviews of top officers of the Punjab government that were working closely with Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif in different capacities. In fact, these officials were barred from giving their testimony in the case.
The FIA had sought interviews with these officials because their testimonies could have provided vital clues to uncover the source of the assassination plot report.
The FIA report claimed that the chief security officer of Nawaz Sharif also refused to appear before the inquiry commission to record his statement. The officer was approached because it was revealed that the Special Branch had also sent a copy of the alleged assassination plot to the former prime minister.
The FIA inquiry report makes it clear that several reminders were sent to top guns of Punjab government but no response was received. The report also said that five reminders were also sent to the chief secretary Punjab requesting him to ask concerned officers to appear before the commission to record their statements to verify originality of source report issued by the Special Branch Police, which had created a storm a few months ago.
Dr Syed Tauqir Shah, secretary to chief minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, and Ahmed Raza Sarwar, additional secretary/PSO to CM Punjab, were also summoned through the chief secretary Punjab for recording of their statements, but neither appeared. The staff at the office and residence of Rana Maqbool Ahmed, secretary prosecution, refused to receive the summons. SP CIA Umar Virk, SP Sarfraz Virk and DSP Fayyaz Ahmed were also summoned but did not appear.
Exchange between FIA and home dept
Even more interesting than the noncooperation is a letter written by the Punjab home department’s additional secretary in which he levelled serious allegations against Qureshi.
The letter states: “your requests to relevant information sought has been provided within the ambit of supreme court decision. During this period, all relevant officers of special branch and Punjab police have joined the investigations as and when required by the inquiry officer and have extended the full cooperation. Your insistence that officers mentioned in your letter of October 9 should appear before you in connection with the inquiry, is only compatible with your ingrained bias that you harbour against the government of Punjab, on account of the fact that you were removed DG Communication Punjab because of your involvement in politics and open interference/participation in the election campaign of your brother during the by elections of NA-68 Sargodha held on August 5. The fact that contents of all your letters addressed to government of Punjab, though marked confidential, are simultaneously displayed in the media, further established that same are motivated by an urge to malign and embarrass Punjab government and its officers, rather than bonafide reasons. It is therefore, evident that insistence on appearance of officers of the chief minister secretariat before you is motivated by bias and does not fall within the scope of inquiry mandated by the fact.”
In response to this letter, Qureshi replied to the home department that he was never posted as officer on special duty as mentioned in the letter. He was transferred from DIG Telecommunication to another post. Afterwards, he requested through proper channels to be placed at the disposal of federal government. In response to his request, he was relieved of his duty on July 8. He wrote that he has been a thoroughly professional police officer and never either misused or compromised his official position nor let anyone else misuse his office.
Qureshi said he did not have any grudge and had not been motivated by any bias as he is merely complying with the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan dated September 20.
Qureshi reinstated on SC orders
Director Federal Investigation Agency Zafar Ahmad Qureshi was reinstated on the orders of the Supreme Court.The director of the FIA had been removed from his post last week after he conducted investigations into a Rs1.4 billion National Insurance Company land scam, and refused to yield to pressure exerted on him from Islamabad to let some big guns off the hook. However, keeping his honesty and reputation in view, he was reappointed on the SC’s orders.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2010.