FIA chief Tehseen Shah resigns: Babar dig at Qureshi gives new twist to NICL case
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: A new surprise awaited the Supreme Court on Wednesday when Advocate Babar Awan representing Moonis Elahi, the son of former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q which is partner in the ruling coalition, heaped allegations of bias on FIA Additional Director General Capt (retd) Zafar Qureshi.
“When the person himself had named Moonis Elahi by accusing him of being behind death threats the officer was facing, how could Zafar Qureshi conduct fair investigations against his client,” the counsel said before a three-judge Supreme Court bench showing the statement of Mr Qureshi which was duly recorded by the court in earlier proceedings.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ghulam Rabbani had taken up the matter of assumption of charge by Zafar Qureshi to resume investigation into the multi-billion-rupee corruption in National Insurance Company Limited (NICL).
The government had to reinstate Mr Qureshi after the Supreme Court quashed his suspension order.
Mr Qureshi had on Feb 17 told a different SC bench that he was being threatened with dire consequences and that if he met an unnatural death, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Pervaiz Elahi, Moonis Elahi, Chaudhry Wajahat, Maj (retd) Habibullah Warraich and Mohsin Habib Warraich would be responsible for that.
He claimed that he was being threatened because he had taken steps to collect incriminating evidence and arrested those who were involved in the NICL scam, including Moonis Elahi.
The government later implicated former establishment secretary Ismail Qureshi in the Haj scam case to put pressure on his brother Zafar Qureshi.
On Wednesday, Advocate Awan asked how a “majwaza maqtool” (self-proclaimed victim) would proceed against his own “murderers”. The counsel reminded the court that he had already filed an application for the purpose.
But the court decided to take up the matter at a later stage and said the application was not fixed for Wednesday’s hearing.
RESIGNATION: Visibly hurt by a court directive to become a team mate and assist as subordinate in investigation into the NICL scam, FIA Director General Tehseen Anwar Shah offered his resignation before the Supreme Court, but was asked to submit it to the competent authority.
Mr Shah told the court that although he and Zafar Qureshi belonged to the same group of service, he was tendering resignation to honour the conventions as FIA DG and in-charge of the affairs of the agency which functioned under the Federal Investigation Agency Act, 1974 (Act VIII of 1975).
The court had on Tuesday ordered the FIA chief to become a member of the investigating team headed by Zafar Qureshi and extend all possible cooperation and assistance in the probe. The court asked Mr Shah that if he was not willing to act as FIA DG he should approach the competent authority. Otherwise, it said, he would have to comply with the Tuesday’s orders.
BOMB SCARE CASE: Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq informed the court that a case had been registered at the Civil Lines police station in Lahore regarding the bomb scare at the FIA Lahore office on Aug 12 and 13.
The court ordered the Punjab police chief to ensure an independent investigation into the matter and also examine whether provision like section 505 of the PPC was attracted in such cases when baseless rumours were spread for causing harassment to the general public.
The PPO is required to depute a competent officer and submit outcome of the case to the SC registrar.
Director Lahore Waqar Haider and Assistant Director Khwaja Hammad of the FIA who had been summoned by the court appeared before it.
Mr Hammad conceded that his boss Waqar Haider had told him that he was under immense pressure that Zafar Qureshi should not be allowed to enter the FIA office on Aug 13 and even Aug 15 at any cost and asked him to adopt any suitable measure to stop him. He said that since he had enjoyed very cordial and close relations with Zafar Qureshi, he informed the latter during the night between Aug 12 and 13 about the bomb hoax. Consequently, Mr Qureshi was prevented from entering the office on Aug 13.
The court ordered Mr Hammad to submit a detailed statement during course of the day, the copy of which should also be handed over to Waqar Haider who had denied the assertions by stating that he was in Islamabad on that day.
The court asked Mr Haider to strictly comply with its Aug 8 orders and extend all possible assistance to Mr Qureshi and his team and cooperate with him in a manner as required, without causing any hindrance.
Members of Mr Qureshi’s team – Javed Hussain Shah, Zufiqar Ali, Muhammad Ahmed, Khalid Anees and Muhammad Sarwar – assured the court that they would willingly carry out investigation into the NICL scam like they had been doing in the past.
The court asked them that if at any stage they felt that they were being pressurised by any quarter, they should inform the SC registrar for placing the matter before the court.
Muhammad Ahmad informed the court that he had collected case files.
The court observed that Interior Secretary Khawaja Akbar Siddiq, FIA chief, director FIA Lahore and Khwaja Hammad had violated the order orders, but it was postponing contempt proceedings against them because investigation into the NICL case had started.