ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that India has agreed to receive Pakistani investigators for probing its allegations about the involvement of some groups or people from Pakistan in last month’s Pathankot airbase attack.
Speaking at a news conference at the Punjab House here on Sunday, he said the only condition India had made was that it should be informed at least five days before the visit of the Pakistani investigators.
Chaudhry Nisar provided the information in reply to a question about the registration of an FIR in Gujranwala over the Pathankot incident.
“Our SIT (Special Investigation Team) will visit India in the next few days. India has already been informed through a letter by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the SIT visit. India has agreed to it,” he said.
Chaudhry Nisar did not answer when asked if India had also agreed to allow the Pakistani investigators to visit the Pathankot airbase as there were reports that New Delhi would not let them enter the base. He was of the opinion that the registration of the FIR was necessary to fulfil certain legal requirements to hold investigations and verification of the information shared by India with Pakistan.
Registration of FIR in Pathankot case was necessary: Nisar
He said the FIR was also needed to acquire data from service providers of those telephone numbers through which India claimed the attackers had talked to someone in Pakistan from inside the Pathankot airbase. “These (phone) numbers have been made part of the FIR,” he said. “Further investigations will be held on the basis of this FIR.”
The minister recalled that an FIR had also been lodged in Pakistan following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
He said some arrests had been made in connection with Pathankot incident, but investigations were still on to establish their links with the telephone numbers or with those people whose names had been provided by India. He refused to give details about those arrested, saying it was a “sensitive matter”. He urged the media to avoid speculations on the matter.
The minister regretted that some TV channels had aired wrong information about the arrested men which provided an opportunity to some others to go underground. He said the government would move ahead with complete responsibility and all decisions on the case would be taken in accordance with law and facts and on the basis of evidence which would be shared with the media.
Chaudhry Nisar reiterated his offer to constitute a judicial commission to look into the allegations that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was exceeding its mandate and carrying out actions on political grounds.
He said the Sindh government had issued a statement that it would formally request the centre to constitute a judicial commission to examine the FIA actions vis-à-vis seizure of record of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) in connection with some land scams. He said a judicial commission should not be formed to investigate only one case, adding that if the Sindh government had any complaint against the FIA, it could go to courts.
The minister said he was ready to give briefing not only to the PPP but also to all opposition parties on all the actions taken by the FIA during the present government’s two and a half years tenure. He asked the opposition parties to suggest the names of serving or retired judges of superior courts for the commission.
Chaudhry Nisar had made the offer on Wednesday in a rejoinder to PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s claim that the FIA was following the footprints of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in exceeding its mandate.
He said the FIA was investigating a number of mega corruption cases such as EOBI, Evacuee Trust Property Board, new Islamabad airport, PIA and Haj scams. All these cases, he added, were under investigations before he had taken over the charge as interior minister.
He praised the FIA’s role and said he had been trying to increase the salary and perks of its officials because he wanted to see it as a “premier investigative agency” of the country.
In reply to a question, he said that he would soon share with the media the progress made so far by the FIA in the Asghar Khan case on the directive of the Supreme Court.
The minister said the PML-N government had no plan to clip the wings or reduce powers of the National Accountability Board (NAB). The government was not afraid of NAB, he said, adding that the bureau had been used by the two previous governments to victimise the PML-N leadership, but it could not find anything.
He claimed that former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had in fact constituted NAB only to target PML-N. He clarified that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had issued the statement about NAB only after receiving complaints from some investors and businessmen.
Our Correspondent from Taxila adds: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the government had no plan to clip the wings of any institution, but added that “if someone’s nails grow in size they have to be filed”.
Talking to reporters in Taxila, he said the prime minister had in his speech taken the names of some other institutions as well besides NAB, clarifying that the government’s reservations were not confined to any specific institution.
He said the NAB chairman had himself admitted flaws in the accountability system.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2016