ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s privileges committee informed the house on Friday it had found a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director ‘biased’ in investigating a disputed charge against a son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani relating to the so-called ‘Haj scam’ of 2010 and called for action against the official.
In a report presented to the house after inquiring into a complaint made last month by Abdul Qadir Gilani, a house member and elder son of the former prime, of alleged harassment and hindrance in the performance of his duties, the 22-member standing committee on rules of procedure and privilege, suggested unspecified action against the FIA director, Hussain Asghar, both on disciplinary grounds and for a breach of the lawmaker’s privilege.
It charged the investigating officer with being “biased in his investigation” because of his suspension and transfer from Islamabad by the former prime minister --- both actions reversed by Supreme Court intervention --- and said: “The entire investigation was the outcome of rancour and violative of law, thus fair investigation is not expected from him.”
The call for penalties was contained in two recommendations: “The competent authority may be directed to take necessary disciplinary action in accordance with law” against the official, and that “the house may take an appropriate action deemed necessary in view of breach of the privilege” of Mr Gilani, a former Punjab assembly member elected to the lower house from Multan in a by-election after the Supreme Court disqualified his father for a contempt-of-court conviction.
The original investigation against Mr Gilani emanated from a suo motu notice taken by the Supreme Court in 2010 after Syed Imran Ali Shah, a National Assembly member of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N, accused the-then Punjab assembly member of buying a bullet-proof vehicle out of “misappropriated/defrauded amount” of the Haj scam, which related to alleged wrongdoings in arranging accommodation for Pakistani pilgrims in Makkah.
But the committee report noted that the court had declared that allegation “bald and baseless” and said that, without any further order of the court, the FIA official “maliciously attempted to implicate” Mr Gilani in the Haj scam “to harass and lower him in the esteem of his constituents in particular and the public at large in general, disabling him to perform his functions as MNA in his constituency and in the parliament as well”.
It said the investigating officer not only “failed to prove/show” before the committee any bona-fide exercise of power by him under the criminal law, but, despite the committee’s cognizance, “also manoeuvred to withdraw” a criminal case pending before a judicial magistrate in Islamabad against the PML-N lawmaker for allegedly furnishing a false information against Mr Gilani.
The investigating officer, the committee said, failed to inform it as to what “prompted him to act contrary” to the Supreme Court’s observation that MNA Imran Ali Shah’s statement was “based on bald and baseless allegation” and added that it took “serious notice of misuse of powers” by him “under the garb of the criminal law to the prejudice of the public to such an extent that a member of the parliament could not save his skin from the said irregular exercise and misuse of excesses made by the investigating office”.
While making his complaint first in the National Assembly on Nov 14, Mr Gilani had threatened that both he and his younger brother, Musa Gilani, would resign from the house if nothing was done to protect their family from perceived harassment after he received a notice from the FIA director to appear before an investigation officer the same day with a threat of punishment for non-compliance.