The country’s security czar has made it clear to the Sindh government that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) will continue its crackdown against corrupt officials throughout the country.
On Monday, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had contacted Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressing concerns over the federal government’s recent decision to allow the FIA to detain suspects for 90 days under the Protection of Pakistan Act (POPA).
Read: Abettors of terror: Crackdown begins in South Punjab, interior Sindh
He told the interior minister that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and FIA had launched raids even against teachers and clerks in many districts of Sindh.
CM Qaim termed the recent actions taken by the federal authorities against scores of officers in Sindh “interference into provincial autonomy”, and expressed serious reservations over the powers given to the authorities. “As a matter of fact,” he pointed out, “we have the Anti-Corruption Unit and Chief Minister’s Inspection Team to investigate these smaller offences.”
Extending all-out support to the federal authorities if there was any “mega-
corruption case or irregularity”, Qaim, however, said even then the officials were bound to take him into confidence.
Assuring the chief minister of looking into the matter, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said the FIA – one of the top investigation agencies in Pakistan – would continue its operations against corrupt officials throughout the country and Sindh was no exception.
An official of the interior ministry, requesting anonymity, said the interior minister maintained that the FIA would continue working with its new powers, as action against mafias and financial terrorism was across the board.
“Nisar made it clear that FIA’s new powers were not Sindh-specific and the agency could exercise these powers throughout the country,” stated the official statement.
Read: Restoration of peace: Parliamentary secretary praises FIA, NAB operations
The main purpose of delegating such powers to the FIA was to assign the task to a federal agency to investigate crimes linked with inter-provincial or international affairs and did not fall under the domain of provincial police, the official statement said. “The federation has great respect for provincialism and no province should have any concerns in this regard,” it was stated.
Attack on provincial autonomy
CM Qaim had earlier said the FIA and NAB had no powers to conduct raids in Sindh.
“It is an invasion and we are going to challenge it,” he said while speaking to the media at an event at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) building.
He said the federal authorities or its officers could not perform the functions of the Sindh government with respect to criminal offences or corruption of provincial civil servants. He added the Sindh government usually gave powers to the Rangers but “without asking the government, NAB and FIA have been allowed by the Centre to conduct raids in provincial and local government offices, arrest officers and paralyse the day-to-day working”.
“I will not allow this. I consider it as an invasion,” he said.
The chief minister said that over Rs65 billion were being spent on the maintenance of law and order in Sindh. “We have developed the capacity of police force by giving them special training and necessary equipment.”
Replying to a question, he said the Supreme Court had fixed September 20 as the date for local bodies election. “We will not extend the election date. We are ready and we would hold elections on the date.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.