LAHORE: A former ISI official was hired by the Sharifs who served for two years as head of the Special Branch Punjab although he was instrumental in implicating both PML-N head Nawaz Sharif and the incumbent Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in plane hijacking case instituted by Gen Pervaiz Musharraf in October 1999.
This has been revealed in the contents of a high level judicial commission’s report on former Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Sharif’s murder plot and currently under the scrutiny of FIA investigators.
Col (retd) Ehsan-ur Rehman has been removed from the services following the judicial commission recommendations for holding him responsible, besides others, for playing a dubious role in fabricating a report on former CJ LHC Kh Sharif’s assassination plot.
Col Ehsan had not only been overseeing the plane hijacking inquiry against the Sharifs, which first resulted in their conviction by the anti-terrorism court and ultimately resulted in spending more than seven years in exile, but had also compiled inquiry reports on Gen (R) Ziauddin’s appointment as army chief and the corruption charges against Nawaz and Shahbaz Sharif as per his recorded statement before the judicial commission.
Col Ehsan, who had served ISI from Aug 1999 till Dec 2001 and retired in December 2007, had also interrogated Hussain Nawaz, the elder son of Nawaz Sharif, former principal secretary Saeed Mehdi, former accountability chief of Nawaz Sharif government Saif-ur-Rehman and Saif’s brother Mujeebur Rehman.
“It was on account of my interrogation that M/s Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Saif-ur-Rehman and Saeed Mehdi were implicated in the hijacking case, by which I mean the flight which was bringing Gen Musharraf from Sri Lanka to Karachi. I prepared and submitted three reports to the then DG ISI Gen Mehmood, first about hijacking, the second about appointment of Gen Ziauddin as army chief and the third one about corruption,” Col Ehsan-ur Rehman said before the commission of inquiry comprising three honourable judges of superior courts, probing former LHC Chief Justice Kh Sharif’s murder plot, allegedly conceived during 2010.
Despite having this service track record, the former ISI official was inducted first as Director (R&A) in the Punjab special branch on Oct 6, 2008. The kindness of Sharifs can be gauged from another fact that when Ehsan declined the offer for being a grade 19 job it was upgraded to grade 20.
Later on Col Ehsan was elevated as the head of the entire branch on May 13, 2009. In fact, Sharifs intended to hire him as the head of special branch at the time of his appointment but the then IGP Punjab Shaukat Javed resisted the move on the plea that the person is not suitable for the post. However, on his (Shaukat Javed) retirement, Col (R) Ehsan got the number one slot in the branch.
The significance of the post can be gauged from the fact that the special branch is Punjab’s premier spying agency and the top slot is usually awarded to a person enjoying complete confidence of the provincial chief executive. It is surprising how the Sharifs could afford to appoint an official as the head of the special branch with a service history of supervising inquiry reports of the highest order against them and a few of their hard core confidants. The irony is that Col (R) Ehsan claims to be instrumental in implicating the Sharifs in the hijacking case in addition to probing other cases against them on the one hand while on the other, Saeed Mehdi, former principal secretary to former PM Nawaz Sharif, while recording his statement before the same commission has described Ehsan as very ‘helpful and sympathetic during the course of plane hijacking case inquiry’.
Not only Saeed Mehdi described Col Ehsan as helpful and sympathetic the Sharifs brothers too held good opinion about Col (R) Ehsan, which is evident from the statement in which Mehdi told the commission that “CM Shahbaz Sharif told me about Col Ehsan by saying that ‘he was good to us’ when we were incarcerated”.
Similarly, Saeed Mehdi stated in his statement “Mian Nawaz Sharif told me to call Col Ehsan at Raiwind. The next day I was also present when Col Ehsan met Nawaz Sharif during which Nawaz Sharif thanked him for his treatment during hard times”.
Saeed Mehdi when contacted admitted: “I and both the Sharifs were instrumental in providing him re-employment in the Punjab government since he remained very polite and courteous with all of us at a time when nobody was willing to even tell us the time, date, or anything about our family members.”
When told that the person whom the Sharifs have rewarded in return for his ‘politeness’ during military custody has made such a startling disclosures before the commission, Mehdi bluntly confessed: “We feel regret this person recorded his statement before the commission by claiming that he had, in fact, implicated Sharifs and me and others in hijacking case adding if we were aware of this fact that he was, in fact, instrumental in implicating us in hijacking case we may not have gone this way”. Similarly on the question of Col Ehsan’s professional competence, Mehdi once again appears affirmative by stating that “absolutely he was no way near to justify getting such a sensitive post.” “Now we think that his kind attitude during prison days might have aimed at putting us on wrong perception and he did so to come close to us to secure his future with certain designs,” Mehdi concluded.
When contacted Col Ehsan avoided saying anything on the matter at the moment as he apprehended that his words on such a sensitive issue might be taken out of context.