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Swati steps down

Top Story

December 7, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati on Thursday submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan, who accepted the same.

Swati is the second stalwart of the ruling PTI who has to leave the ministerial slot after cropping up of serious controversies around him. Babar Awan was the first to go who was adviser to the PM and had to quit in the second month of the government.

Azam Swati allegedly committed excesses with his poor neighbours, who are temporarily displaced people (TDPs) and was entangled first in removal of the Inspector General Police (IGP), Islamabad, who didn’t respond to his phone call. He wanted to get hold of his neighbours and sent them ultimately to prison.

The Supreme Court took suo motu notice and through a JIT the whole matter was probed and found the minister prime facie guilty. He will be tried in the superior courts under the Constitution’s clauses of disqualification since other irregularities have also been found by the JIT.

IGP Islamabad Jan Muhammad, a grade-20 officer of the Police Services of Pakistan (PSP), had been directed to report to the Establishment Division on October 27, apparently on the verbal orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan on the complaint of the minister. The Supreme Court had sought legal assistance from two lawyers for suggesting a possible course of action against Swati in view of the JIT’s damning reports highlighting his alleged misuse of authority. Renowned lawyers Khalid Javed Khan and Faisal Siddiqui were tasked to give legal assistance about the applicability of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution on Swati, who allegedly used his influence on police to victimise the family of one Niaz Muhammad whose cow allegedly grazed on his land. The article pertains to qualification required for membership of the parliament.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had remarked that Swati’s trial could be conducted under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, adding that the minister should have resigned voluntarily after submission of the JIT report.

“To uphold my moral authority, I sent my resignation to the PM (and told him) that I cannot work under these conditions. Now I will defend my case without any portfolio or authority," Swati said.

In a related development, the US Department of Homeland Security handed over important documents to the JIT, probing Swati's alleged misuse of authority, and stated that he falsely represented himself as an American national in the US in 2000 and 2001.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) as the apex court believed that the FBR is dragging it feet in the Aleema Khan case.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by the Chief Justice, heard a suo motu case regarding foreign bank accounts and properties held by Pakistani citizens. The court also admonished the FBR for not submitting a report regarding details of property and tax amnesty of Aleema Khan, sister of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

During the course of hearing, the chief justice took a strong exception to the non-compliance by the FBR with the court’s order, failing to implement it in letter and spirit and issued contempt of court notices to FBR chairman and Member Income Tax. However, the court later withdrew it after FIA Director General Bashir Memon assured the court of submitting the report by December 13.

The court directed the FBR to submit report regarding 20 individuals as well as on the inquiry against Prime Minister Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan by December 13. The Chief Justice observed that the FBR is using delaying tactics in the instant case despite the fact that the FIA had investigated the matter but the FBR has put it in cold storage

The Chief Justice recalled that they had directed looking into the matter of 20 individuals and a Joint Investigation Team had also been constituted in order to conclude the investigation at the earliest but no progress has been shown by the authorities concerned yet.

He directed the FBR chairman to submit a progress report over the investigation conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) into foreign accounts and properties of Pakistani citizens.

The FBR chairman submitted that they have collected the initial information while the investigation will be carried out by field officers. He further submitted that they are also forming special zones to look into Pakistanis who own properties in Dubai and special zones have been formed to deal with offshore accounts. The CJP then asked about the report regarding the 20 individuals who appeared before the FBR, adding that the Board of Revenue should inform the court about its performance till now.

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