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May 16, 2021

How is FIA treating Tareen?: Senator Ali Zafar to present fact-finding report to PM

ISLAMABAD: Senator Syed Ali Zafar will present to Prime Minister Imran Khan his fact-finding report next week on whether estranged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen is getting fair, unbiased and non-discriminatory treatment from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the criminal cases registered against him.

“I have heard both sides extensively and gone through the relevant documents provided by the parties,” Senator Ali Zafar told The News when contacted. “I have completed the task assigned by the prime minister and will now start writing my report.”

He said he had held multiple meetings with the legal and financial teams of Tareen. He said the FIA presented its own side of the story about the investigations being conducted by it.

Ali Zafar refused to divulge his initial assessment of whether or not Tareen has received a fair deal from the FIA and the other government agencies looking into his businesses, especially those related to sugar.

The senator’s mandate did not include a review of the role of the prime minister’s close aide on accountability Shahzad Akbar in the investigations being carried out by the FIA against Tareen, but his job was to ascertain the facts in order to remove the reservations publicly expressed by Tareen and his supporters.

As the FIA probe gained momentum, Tareen gathered more than 30 federal and Punjab lawmakers of the ruling PTI in his support to exert pressure on the government to first get the investigations slowed down and ultimately scrapped.

These legislators also met the prime minister to get some relief for Tareen and said after the session that their demands had been accepted. They said Imran Khan told them that he would personally supervise the FIA investigation into the sugar scam and see no injustice was done to anybody.

A day before this meeting, the role of senior police officer Muhammad Rizwan, who was heading the FIA probe against Tareen, was radically changed. He was removed as the head of the team and made subordinate to another senior official, Abu Bakar Khuda Bakhsh. Tareen had openly spoken against Muhammad Rizwan and had demanded he be sidelined.

Initially, the investigations had been launched against Tareen in the light of the findings and recommendations of the Sugar Commission prepared by the FIA. However, according toTareen and his supporters, not a single case relating to the sugar scandal had been registered by the FIA or any other agency. They said that the word ‘sugar’ doesn’t even occur in the three FIRs lodged by the FIA against Tareen and his son, Ali. Most of the cases pertain to money laundering.

An official said that once an FIR was lodged under the FIA law, the investigation has to be conducted by its officers strictly according to the FIA Act, Pakistan Penal Code, anti-money laundering law, Criminal Procedure Code and Police Act.

He said that none of these laws gives any role to the prime minister, interior minister, advisor on the interior, MPs or anyone nominated by the premier to ascertain facts about the probe. The FIA officers are duty bound to inquire into the matter as per the law and the facts of the case on merit, he said.

Tareen alleges that the cases against him and his associates have been ‘directed’ from Islamabad. He claims that the FIRs registered against him were provided to the FIA on a USB and were not the result of an independent inquiry by FIA officials.