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April 7, 2021

Azmat Saeed commission report: Two figures, now dead, were on Broadsheet’s payroll

National

April 7, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Farouk Adam Khan and Sharifuddin Pirzada were on the payroll of Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) when they were respectively the prosecutor general (PG) of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the ambassador-at-large during the tenure of Pervez Musharraf, the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) headed by retired Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed has noted in its report submitted to the federal government.

Both the gentlemen are no longer alive. The report said that according to the statement of Douglas Tisdale--a lawyer by profession and a witness for Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) before the arbitral tribunal-- Sharifuddin Pirzada who at that point in time (1999-2000) was the ambassador at large and held various other offices and advised the Pakistan government and NAB, was also on the payroll of Broadsheet (Isle of Man) and International Asset Recovery LLC.

It said Tisdale further deposed that within a month of leaving NAB, Farouk Adam was also on the payroll of Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man), a fact that was concealed by Adam from the subsequent NAB chairman who reached out to him for support and guidance with regards to matters relating to NAB including its relationship with Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) /International Asset Recovery LLC. No one really knows when the financial relationship between Farouk Adam and Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) began, the report states.

While the CoI took strong exception to Farouk Adam’s selection as the PG by the then NAB Chairman, Lt-Gen Syed Muhammad Amjad, the report did not pass any harsh remarks against the latter. It only said that perhaps it was an error of judgment on the part of the NAB chairman to recommend the appointment of Farouk Adam, who as it later transpired, was “found deficient in both legal expertise and devoid of probity.” General Amjad “could barely conceal his anguish, after all his trust had been violated and confidence betrayed, a fact that only came to light during the course of arbitration”, the findings said. In his statement before the CoI, Amjad stated that he perhaps “trusted” Farouk Adam a bit too much. Perhaps such trust was violated. “One should not speak ill of the dead but the fact remains that it was also the trust of the State of Pakistan that was violated by Farouk Adam. The NAB cannot avoid vicarious liability of its unscrupulous PG,” the report said.

Another important point noted by the report relates to the “blanks” in the draft settlement agreement signed with Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man). It said: “There can be no escape from the fact that in the draft agreement which was transmitted to the law ministry with glaring errors and omissions (blanks) shockingly was returned back to the NAB with some grammatical changes under a covering letter signed purportedly on behalf of Section Officer, Law II, Muhammad Kaleem Khan dated 29 April, 2008.”

Another letter dated May 14, 2008 did not contain any instructions as to how the blanks in the agreement were to be filled. Abdul Basit, the then Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan in the UK, acknowledged in his statement to the CoI the receipt of the letter and said that the agreement which he received contained blanks and was executed by Jerry James in his presence at his office in London. He also stated that he read the agreement and its appendices prior to the execution. The report said Abdul Basit did not get back to Pakistan, neither to NAB nor to the foreign ministry, to seek instructions about the blanks which went into the heart of the matter -- the identity of the legal entity in whose favour the document in this behalf was offered. However, he did concede that he has never signed any blank agreements or documents on behalf of the State of Pakistan other than the settlement agreement. He also conceded that he did not seek any legal authority of Jerry James to execute the agreement. According to the CoI, Abdul Basit was required to obtain a photocopy of the passport of Jerry James for the purpose of identification. He conceded that the signatures which were purportedly appended by Jerry James on the settlement agreement and some of the other appendices did not match his signatures on the passport.

The report said the diplomat did not even bother to check the signatures of Jerry James to ascertain whether they matched with his passport. “The commission is at a loss for words to comprehend the magnitude of such behaviour. One is left to wonder that if a white man, that too with an American accent, walks into the room, the capacity to reason and analysis is paralysed. After more than 70 years of freeing ourselves from colonial rule, our bureaucrats are yet to rid themselves of a colonial hangover and continue regarding the words of a white man as the gospel truth.”

The CoI said that soon after the appointment of Muhammad Amjad as the NAB chairman, Farouk Adam, who is a former major of the Pakistan Army, was picked up as the PG on the NAB chief’s recommendation. Not too soon after, Trouvons through its representative Tariq Fawad Malik and Ghazanfer Sadiq Ali, surfaced in the NAB record. Muhammad Amjad told the CoI that he did not recall whether it was Malik or Ghazanfar Sadiq Ali who introduced Trouvons to him and NAB. The report said an overview of the unfortunate saga revolves around the acts and omissions of Farouk Adam. It may be appropriate to examine the choice of his appointment and his conduct after he relinquished his office. Muhammad Amjad, who had chosen Farouk Adam for the position, told the CoI: ”I understood that during his time in prison he had studied law and, upon leaving prison, he had entered private practice with Sardar Khan (although I was unaware as to the extent of his work as a lawyer in private practice). I thought that I might be able to work well with a person [Farouk Adam] with military experience.”

The significance is not what has been stated by Muhammad Amjad, but rather what is conspicuous by its absence, the CoI stated, adding that “the criterion for Farouk Adam’s appointment was not his legal acumen, expertise or experience in the relevant field of law. Perhaps he was not professionally equal to the task, especially with regards to drafting of international agreements with financial implications.” The report said that Farouk Adam’s view dated March 1, 2001 given to the principals of Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) regarding the interpretation of the original agreement executed on June 20, 2002 is an eye-opener and quite telling regarding what he says in the following few words: “While negotiating and drafting the agreement we were binding the Pakistan Government acting through NAB chairman, who represented President of Pakistan.”

“The word used by him is ‘we’ which speaks volumes and raises the possibility that he may have been on the payroll of Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man) while being the PG”, the CoI said. The CoI has also strangely and unnecessarily attacked eminent author and scholar Ayesha Siddiqa. It said “it has been noted with interest and perhaps some disdain that one Ayesha Siddiqa, who had no direct connection or knowledge regarding the transaction with Broadsheet LLC (Isle of Man), appeared in the arbitration proceedings as an expert witness on behalf of the Broadsheet.

In such proceedings, expert witnesses are usually paid. She made uncharitable statements regarding Pakistan and its affairs in the arbitration proceedings. It appears that maligning Pakistan is a lucrative business for some so-called ‘intellectuals’. Moral fibre and loyalty appear to be in short supply in Pakistan.”