SC may hear senior journalist on payment allegation -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

SC may hear senior journalist on payment allegation

Pakistan Press Foundation

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court indicated on Monday that it would give the right of hearing to senior journalist Nazir Naji on an allegation that he had received Rs3 million from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) during the second government of PML-N in 1999.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked Attorney General Muneer A. Malik to go through the Sept 5 application of Asad Kharal, reporter of an English daily, levelling the allegation against Mr Naji, and assist it in the matter of providing the right of hearing to him.

The court had taken up allegations that the last PPP government had drawn Rs270 million from the IB fund in 2008-09 to dislodge the Punjab government.

The news item headlined “Govt withdrew millions from Intelligence Bureau’s accounts” was published by the English daily on March 14 last year. The reporter claimed that former director general of the IB Dr Shoaib Suddle had confirmed that the money had been drawn from the bureau’s secret fund and that when he brought the matter to the notice of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani he kept quiet because of political considerations.

The report also accused the PPP government of drawing Rs400 million between 1988 and 1990 from the IB fund to buy loyalty of parliamentarians to offset a ‘no-confidence’ motion, win Azad Kashmir elections and remove the provincial government in then NWFP and install Aftab Sherpao as chief minister.

On Monday, the court asked IB Director General Sikandar Hayat to go through the application and submit a para-wise reply.

In his application, Asad Kharal alleged that the IB had doled out Rs3 million to Mr Naji who at the time was not only a columnist of a Urdu daily but also held a government office as chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Letters from April 3, 1997, to Oct 22, 1999.

He said Saeed Mehdi, principal secretary to prime minister Nawaz Sharif at that time, had met then IB chief retired Col Iqbal Niazi in the Prime Minister Secretariat and conveyed Mr Sharif’s message about paying Rs3m to Mr Naji.

Col Niazi was the personal staff officer of Mr Sharif in 1998 before his appointment as IB director general. Retired Major Farid Jadoon, who was personal staff officer of Col Niazi, had delivered the money to Mr Naji in his house. The application alleged that the IB had audio and video recordings of Mr Naji’s alleged confession. The conversation was recorded by Col Ehsanul Haq, then Punjab chief of the IB, in the presence of Col Niazi.

It also accused the IB of converting Rs100 million into a foreign currency and sending it abroad through illegal channels like Hawala/Hundi.

Col Niazi had denied the allegation in the Supreme Court and termed it a conspiracy. Maj Jadoon also denied that he had handed over the money to Mr Naji. On Monday, the two former officers submitted their statements in sealed envelopes.

The attorney general said he would like to examine the documents in the office of registrar. Referring to the allegation of doling out Rs400m for political exigencies, he recalled that the IB had already mentioned the purpose of withdrawing the money from its secret fund in 2008-09.

On May 13, the IB had informed the court that the money had been used to counter insurgency in Balochistan. It said the spending had been certified by the controlling authority.