FIA officer not relieved by Gilgit-Baltistan, SC told
By: Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: Another day at the court and another showing of the government’s skilful parrying.
When the Supreme Court once again asked on Tuesday for progress on bringing Hussain Asghar, Inspector General of Gilgit-Baltistan, back to the FIA (to resume investigation into the Haj scam), it was informed that nothing had changed since the last hearing and the last order. Asghar was still holding the post in Gilgit-Baltistan and had not yet set out for Islamabad.
And despite voicing its concern and ire, the court accepted the government’s request and postponed the hearing for another
On July 29, the court had ordered the government to reinstate Mr Asghar to his position in the FIA when he was relieved from his current post.
Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq told reporters that he would positively establish contact with Mr Asghar during the course of the day so that he could be reassigned as FIA director to resume investigation into the unprecedented mismanagement in last year’s Haj operations.
Mr Asghar become the centre of controversy when former establishment secretary Sohail Ahmed had on July 26 presented before the Supreme Court a hurriedly prepared notification transferring him back to the FIA.
The move angered the government which made Sohail Ahmed as officer on special duty for issuing the notification without the consent of the prime minister.
Mr Asghar was promoted by the government and sent to Gilgit-Baltistan as Inspector General of Police in an apparent move to slow the pace of Haj scam probe because it involves a number of influential people, including a son of the prime minister.
On Tuesday, a two-judge SC bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Ghulam Rabbani was told that Mr Asghar was still serving as Gilgit-Baltistan IG.
Pointing to Interior Secretary Khawaja Akbar Siddiq, the chief justice asked what had happened to the secretary who used to be very active. “You have become so helpless that you could not bring the officer back.” The CJ said the court would not ask him to fight with the Gilgit-Baltistan administration, but he should devise a mechanism to bring Hussain Asghar back to the FIA.
When former law minister Dr Babar Awan, representing the interior secretary, pointed out that the secretary had submitted a report, the chief justice said he had gone through the report and added: “It is not the way that he refuses to return.”
The report repeated the same old reason that Hussain Asghar was not being relieved by Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah because of the law and order situation until a new inspector general was appointed. “There are procedures of withdrawing an official from a province – a procedure about which the apex court has not been apprised of in the beginning,” Dr Awan argued. “They have a territory, a government and a parliament and the Supreme Court should consider about these things also,” he added.
“It is not our job to enter into their territory, but the Supreme Court is not subordinate to the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Who made us subordinate to the Gilgit-Baltistan administration? We are only interested that the Supreme Court order (of bringing Hussain Asghar back) must be implemented,” the chief justice observed. He warned against forcing the court to go to any extent.
“The writ jurisdiction of their courts was possible only due to this court (verdict),” the chief justice observed and reiterated the earlier order of bringing Mr Asghar back to his previous department. “We will see who is the person stopping him to come here,” the chief justice said. He warned that if Hussain Asghar refused to come back to rejoin the FIA, the court would change his (service) cadre. “Let him live there (Gilgit-Baltistan) permanently,” the chief justice observed.
The court adjourned the proceedings for two weeks with an observation that the counsel had asked for time.
The order issued after a brief hearing stated that in response to the notice Dr Awan appeared and he had been asked to expedite the process of bringing Hussain Asghar back to the FIA.