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March 17, 2008

Two Fata MNAs-elect admit meeting ISI official

Top Story

March 17, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Two newly-elected MNAs from the tribal areas have confirmed to 'The News' that they held a secret meeting with the deputy DG ISI Maj Gen Nusrat Naeem at the secret agency's headquarters last week before meeting Asif Ali Zardari, but they denied that they had discussed the current political situation.

A total of seven MNAs from the tribal area were quietly invited to the ISI headquarters, where they reportedly got a briefing on the current political situation. Credible sources told The News that the newly-elected MPs from Fata were given money for some purposes. The members were asked to join the coalition government but remain in touch with the agency.

Many believe that the ISI move to take the Fata MNAs on board is meant to weaken the next government or to use these MNAs and some others in contact with the secret agency at some suitable situation that may arise in case of some rifts in the coalition.

Munir Khan Orakzai, parliamentary leader of the Fata MNAs who is elected from NA-38-Tribal Areas-III, when approached by The News first denied any meeting with Maj Gen Nusrat Naeem, the head of the political cell of the agency. However, when told that a senior official has confirmed the meeting, he said, "Yes, we met him some days ago," but hastened to add that the meeting was not on political issues but was on the issues relating to the development of the area.

Orakzai strongly denied taking any money from ISI officials. When asked whether Fata MNAs would support the new coalition government in all situations, he said that they had joined the coalition with sincerity, and if the PPP-led government fulfilled the promises it had made with them regarding the development work and maintaining law and order, they would remain with it.

Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, MNA-elect from NA-45-Tribal Areas-X, when approached by The News also admitted that he along with six of his colleagues from Fata met Nusrat Naeem some days before meeting

Asif Ali Zardari. However, Qadri denied that the meeting was meant to discuss political issues. "It was purely regarding the development issues of the area and there was nothing political," Qadri said. He also denied that he or any one else had taken money from the ISI official.

Sajid Hussain Turi, MNA-elect from NA-37-Tribal Areas-II, told The News said that he reached Islamabad late and was not part of the meeting either with Nusrat Naeem or Asif Ali Zardari. He met Zardari later in the company of Rahimdad Khan. He said that he was a part of the group of Fata MNAs and that they would move in unison. Turi said he would never leave the coalition government as he said: "A Pathan never goes against his words." Ghazi Gulab Jamal, who was elected MNA from NA-39-Tribal Areas-IV in 2002 elections and served as federal minister in the previous government, said that he was very happy with the situation and atmosphere in which the coalition parties were moving ahead. "I hope that the coalition would work for the betterment of Pakistan," he said.

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