PM blocks move to make Khosa BoP probe head
By Syed Irfan Raza
ISLAMABAD: The government has refused to appoint Narcotics Control Secretary Tariq Khosa as the chief of a team to probe the Rs9 billion Bank of Punjab (BoP) scam, sources told Dawn on Thursday.
In a late-night decision taken a day before the hearing of the case on Friday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani turned down a request by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the appointment of Mr Khosa in compliance with orders of the Supreme Court.
“Rejecting NAB’s request, the prime minister asked the Establishment Division to recommend at least three names for appointment as head of the investigation team,” an official of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat said.
Shabbir Anwar, a press secretary to the prime minister, said he was not aware of the decision. Political analysts believe that the prime minister’s refusal to appoint Mr Khosa may lead to another confrontation between the government and the judiciary. It is the second time that the government has stalled request regarding Mr Khosa.
The Supreme Court ordered the NAB chairman on May 28 to requisition the services of Mr Khosa from the Establishment Secretary to head a team probing the BoP scam.
The court said a team comprising Mr Khosa and other highly skilled investigating officers should take forward the investigation in consultation with NAB Chairman Nawed Ahsan.
According to the court’s orders, Mr Khosa, who is also an elected member of the executive committee of Interpol, could co-opt any other officer to assist him after approaching the NAB chairman.
In accordance with directives of the Supreme Court, the NAB chairman wrote a letter to the Establishment Division on May 29 requisitioning Mr Khosa’s services, but the authorities sat on the communication for some time. Finally the request was turned down by the prime minister.
Mr Khosa was earlier removed from the post of director-general of the Federal Investigation Agency even though he is regarded by the judiciary as one of the most upright and hard-working officials in the bureaucracy.
It was Mr Khosa who had initiated the move for extradition from the United States of the principal accused in the scam, former BoP chief Hamesh Khan, who had allegedly sanctioned heavy bank loans to influential people, which have not been returned.
He was also investigating allegations about the involvement of a federal minister in a human trafficking case.
Although the Supreme Court took exception to his transfer and ordered his reinstatement, the government ignored orders, appointing him secretary of the narcotics control division instead.
“The government believes that posting and transfer of top bureaucrats is its prerogative because they require approval of the prime minister,” sources said.