Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) — whose names appeared in a memo allegedly published by Pakistan’s civilian intelligence agency — met Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Friday to discuss the ongoing “fake letter” fiasco, sources disclosed.
The MNAs made their reservations clear to Abbasi, saying that having their names appear on the alleged list — which links them to outlawed terrorist outfits — has tarnished their image, the sources added.
There is a possibility the opposition may use this opportunity to create an issue against them or frame them, the MNAs identified in the alleged list lamented.
Nevertheless, the Premier assured to resolve the concerned MNAs’ reservations.
Sources mentioned that Aftab Sultan — the Director-General of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) — as well as Minister of Interior Ahsan Iqbal, Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq, and Minister of Law Zahid Hamid were part of the unverified meeting on Friday.
Sultan disassociated himself from the report that surfaced publicly on September 28, that ties the names of certain MNAs to banned terrorist groups, and that the spy agency has denied authoring.
The list in question is “fake”, he stressed.
The top intelligence officer, however, briefed the participants of the meeting regarding an investigation launched to probe into the alleged letter, sources mentioned.
The MNAs, on the other hand, demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Interior submit an explanatory response letter.
In a statement issued following the reports, the Prime Minister House commented that it was not aware of any meeting held between Abbasi and the MNAs over the alleged IB letter.
Former PM ordered IB to monitor MNAs
Riaz Hussain Pirzada — the Minister of Inter-Provincial Coordination — was the first one to raise this issue at an Abbasi-chaired cabinet meeting
Shown on a private TV channel late last month, the memo stated that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif had directed IB to monitor 37 legislators’ activities due to their reported links with banned terrorist and sectarian groups.
The list in question named a number of key ministers — including Pirzada, Hamid, Baleeghur Rehman, Sikandar Bosan, Hafiz Abdul Kareem, and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi — as having ties with proscribed outfits.
Separately, the federal government took notice of this “fake” IB memo, sources informed Geo News, adding that it promised to file a case — following a thorough investigation — in Islamabad’s Secretariat police station against those involved in drafting the memo and leaking it to the media.
‘Why I am a minister?’
Pirzada, alongside a few other legislators, staged on October 5 a walkout from the National Assembly.
In his speech, Pirzada underscored that he belongs to a respectable family. “The Prime Minister House should have immediately ordered an inquiry after receiving the report. If I am a terrorist, why I am a minister?”
The minister had clarification as to whether such an inquiry was initiated by the PM House or not.
Interrupting Pirzada’s speech to make a response, Sadiq told him that IB had filed a complaint to Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) while he was on a visit to Iraq.
“Come to my chamber tomorrow. I will call DG IB. This is a sub-judice matter,” the speaker directed Pirzada.
The government also advised PEMRA to take strict action against apparently mala fide reporting.
False, baseless, and unfounded
The IB has also issued a formal denial of any such report or list.
“Intelligence Bureau, premier national intelligence agency, is fully committed to safeguarding national interest and security of the country. Its officers/officials are working round the clock throughout the length and breadth of the country, facing all kinds of risks emerging in the line of duty,” a senior IB official said on September 27 during a TV program.
The spy agency said it prepared no such report and, thus, the story was false, baseless, and unfounded.