ISLAMABAD: Two top guns of the Punjab police’s Special Branch – the then Additional Inspector General Special Branch Punjab, Col Ehsanur Rehman and a Director, Shahid Mahmood, have both landed in hot water after a report by the FIA clearly showed the dubious role they played in the writing of a report on the alleged plot to assassinate Lahore High Court Chief Justice, Khawaja Muhammad Sharif.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court has now been informed in writing that both the police officers had first straightaway denied any knowledge of sending any source report to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, as had earlier been reported in the media. But within five days of their first statement, both reappeared before the same committee and this time contradicted their earlier statement and said that indeed a report had been sent. And yet, none of the officers wants to own up to this report.
Through its 449-page inquiry report, the FIA has brought to the notice of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that the attitude of both the officers was strange as they had first denied issuing any source report on a possible attack on the CJ of the LHC. The report was the basis of an exclusive story in daily The News where it was printed on September 11. But, within five days of their first statement, the two senior officers changed their stance and put the blame on the shoulders of a sub-ordinate officer, Sub Inspector Shakeel Hassan. Hassan later denied authoring any such report. Hassan then claimed that he was tortured, bribed and threatened so as he should accept responsibility for writing the report in the name of protecting his bosses who were under pressure to find someone to own the said report.
Both these officers were running the Punjab Special Branch when this alleged source report was generated. They are expected to be summoned to the Supreme Court to explain as to how did they give contradictory statements which immediately led to suspicions about their own role in the whole drama of the plot to kill the CJ of the LHC.
According to the available copy of the FIA report with The Express Tribune, the two police officials appeared before the inquiry committee constituted on the orders of interior ministry and the Supreme Court of Pakistan to record their statements on September 15.
Col Ehsan told the inquiry committee that he did not send any report to the Punjab government in his capacity as Additional Inspector General of the Special Branch Punjab. Col Ehsan wrote that after reading a story in The News on September 11 about the alleged plot to assassinate the CJ of the LHC, he wanted to bring it on record that no such report on the subject had been sent from the Special Branch under his signature or even as later checked up by any other subordinate on his behalf.
He said that the newspaper story mentioned a report that was sent by the Special Branch to the chief minister for his eyes only. But he clarified that no such report was sent by him. When asked by the FIA committee on the contents of the report which alleged that a federal minister and two other important federal authorities were behind this plot, he replied that he did not know anything about it.
But, to the surprise of the FIA, Col Ehsan again approached the inquiry committee after five days of his first statement and said that he wished to give a new statement. This time he came out with another angle when he said that actually his Director, Shahid Mahmood, had put up a report to him on the subject. He said that it was Mahmood who had prepared the report on the basis of information received from the intelligence section.
Ehsan said he had two options which were either to discuss it with someone or send it. Considering the importance and sensitivity of the information, it was sent through DR. When the FIA team asked about his first statement in which he had claimed no such report was every sent or signed by him, Col Ehsan said that actually an unsigned note was forwarded as in his earlier statement the emphasis was on a signed report but he had not signed any report.
However, Director Shahid Mahmood in his hand written statement on September 15 told the FIA inquiry committee that he was not aware of any report prepared into the alleged plot to kill the CJ of the LHC, as published in a section of the press. He too reappeared before the inquiry committee on September 20 and gave a new statement. In his new statement, Mahmood claimed that one evening in early August or in the last week of July, the then additional IG Special Branch Colonel Ehsanur Rehman gave him a piece of paper containing some hand written notes about certain criminal elements who could be a threat to an important person, whom he recollected “was probably the CJ of the LHC.”
Mahmood said “I typed it and handed back the draft along with his handwritten notes to Col Ehsan. I am not aware if the draft report in question was issued from this department or not and the then AIG also never discussed with me on the subject after that.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2010.
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