ISLAMABAD, Nov 28: A key witness in the Arsalan Iftikhar-Malik Riaz case, Ahmed Khalil, has submitted three letters to the Shoaib Suddle Commission, one of them requesting it to allow live media coverage of its proceedings.
Sources told Dawn on Wednesday that Mr Khalil did not get his statement recorded before the commission and sought additional time for the purpose, amid media reports that he had considerable material regarding Arsalan Iftikhar’s alleged wrongdoings.
“We have submitted three letters to the commission, expressing our concerns. And we have demanded live media coverage of the commission’s proceedings,” Dr Abdul Basit, Mr Khalil’s counsel, said.
Dr Suddle, who is also the Federal Tax Ombudsman, has been tasked by the Supreme Court to investigate the alleged payment by Malik Riaz of Rs342 million to Arsalan Iftikhar to get cases in the apex court settled in the tycoon’s favour.
One of the letters said that Mr Khalil was a key witness in the case and even then the commission had asked the interior ministry to put his name on the Exit Control List along with those of Arsalan Iftikhar, the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and real estate magnate Malik Riaz.
The second letter alleged that Mr Khalil remained under ‘illegal confinement’ when proceedings of the commission took place on Nov 19. The third letter sought live media coverage of the commission’s proceedings.
Sources close to the commission told Dawn that Mr Khalil had sought three extensions in the case. First, he was summoned by the commission on Nov 19 but he did not appear and informed it that he would appear before it on Nov 21.
Then he sought more time and requested the commission to record his statement on Nov 26. Subsequently, he sought another extension, till Dec 3.
According to the sources, the commission accepted all his requests and permitted him to get his statement recorded on Dec 3. The commission, however, rejected all the allegations levelled at it by Mr Khalil.
Dr Suddle was of the opinion that no court or commission of inquiry could allow live media coverage of its proceedings. That was why Mr Khalil’s request had been turned down.
The sources said the commission had asked the interior ministry to put the names of all main characters of the case on the Exit Control List to ensure their availability in the country so that the case could be wound up as soon as possible.
“During the last proceedings in which Malik Riaz was summoned, my client, Ahmed Khalil, was kept in illegal confinement as doors of the office of Federal Tax Ombudsman (Dr Suddle) had been locked and no one could go outside,” Dr Basit said.
He also expressed concerns over the fact that tax records of Mr Khalil had been obtained by the commission even though his client was just a witness in the case.
Sources in the commission said the tax records of all the main characters in the case had been obtained to ascertain whether the alleged transactions had been mentioned in them or not.
Meanwhile, Zahid Bokhari, the counsel of Malik Riaz, said he had told the commission that his client would not get his statement recorded and that the commission should complete its inquiry through the records available.