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October 15, 2020

Shahzad Akbar denies govt bugged Tareen, family, businesses

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October 15, 2020

LONDON: Former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jahangir Khan Tareen was spied on and put under surveillance by his own party’s government - using two government-controlled departments for the purpose.

Sources have shared that the two government departments – not linked with any defence organisation or the armed forces - monitored activities of Jahangir Tareen, members of his family and his business interests over several weeks. One department is mandated with investigation and the other has the authority to carry out surveillance activities.

Sources shared that Jahangir Tareen’s residences in Islamabad and Lodhran were bugged as well as his sugar mills and other business interests. Tareen’s activities including meetings with politicians, businessmen and friends were monitored and his phone calls were taped, according to sources. Phone calls of all the members of his were recorded.

Three weeks ago, a team of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) raided the head office of Tareen’s sugar mill and seized office record. It’s not clear whether the raid was linked with the bugging operation or not.

A close friend of Tareen shared that the businessman has nothing to hide and nothing to fear from what may have been obtained through surveillance methods as each and every detail of his business is available on the records and available with all the relevant authorities in Pakistan.

When Jahangir Tareen was asked about surveillance of his family and his businesses, he didn’t go into details but didn’t deny that his family was put under surveillance. Jahangir Tareen, however, alleged that he was unfairly targeted and maligned for no reason. Tareen said that a group in the Prime Minister House had done everything to create misunderstanding between him and Imran Khan.

Previously in public, Tareen has blamed PM’s Principal Secretary Azam Khan for leading a campaign of misinformation and harassment against him. Some lawmakers within the PTI, who are close to Tareen, have named Asad Umar, Shahzad Akbar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Zulfi Bukhari as amongst those who went against Tareen soon after the PTI formed government in the Centre and Punjab. All of them have denied allegations that they conspired against their former colleague in the power struggle.

Shahzad Akbar, who has key influence over both the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) and the FIA in his capacity as the Adviser to the PM on Accountability and Interior, rejected the allegations in a conversation with this reporter.

Prime Minister’s Adviser Shahzad Akbar said these allegations were “fiction”. Akbar said that the allegation of bugging of Tareen and his family was “a news” for him. Shahzad Akbar explained, “All concerns of those who were subject of Sugar Commission inquiry were raised by them in multiple litigations before various high courts and Supreme Court of Pakistan. None found worth an order in their favour. The rest is just fiction.”

According to the PTI lawmakers close to Tareen, the group close to the PM didn’t like Tareen’s presence because of his business acumen and his ability to get things done and moving. PTI leaders Raja Riaz, Pervaiz Khatak, Asad Qaisar and Fawad Chaudhary have publicly spoken in defence of Tareen.

Speaking to this correspondent, Fawad Chaudhary said he was not aware if Tareen and family were bugged but he paid tribute to JKT. Fawad Chaudhary said, “Tareen played a huge role in the development of PTI and we would not be where we are today without Tareen’s contribution.”

Jahnagir Tareen is in London these days for his medical treatment. He reached London around three months ago with son Ali Khan Tareen and has been living at a house just outside of London ever since. He has kept a low profile throughout.

Once the closest trusted friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the main sponsor of PTI operations, the former PTI Secretary General is aggrieved at the way he has been treated by several people within the PTI who are considered eyes and ears of PM Imran Khan.

The FIA had summoned PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen and his son Ali Khan Tareen in a money laundering and sugar mill fraud case. Ali was summoned to appear at the FIA Lahore office on September 18 while his father was summoned on September 19. Jahangir Tareen told the FIA that he will join the inquiry in person after his medical treatment.

However, he sent a written reply in detail in every point to FIA along with 11 volumes of supporting documents. Ali Tareen also sent a written reply whose main point was that he has never been on the Board of Directors of JDW Sugar Mill and neither in any executive management. He replied that all questions asked to him regarding the JDW affairs were not relevant to him.

In August, the FIA and SECP launched a money laundering investigation against Tareen and 21 other individuals named in the Sugar Inquiry Commission report. Jahangir Tareen has said that while dozens of names are part of the inquiry but he was one of the two being targeted. Even the Inquiry Commission report had recommended that SECP inquire into these matters as they were corporate in nature but the money laundering element had only been added to bring FIA into the picture, according to his legal team. The former Director General of FIA Bashir Memon alleged in a recent interview that Prime Minister Imran Khan called him to the PM House and asked him to register cases against members of Sharif family including a terrorism case against Khawaja Asif.