ISLAMABAD: Following sensational events that unfolded following his landing in Islamabad, former Sindh information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon on Sunday termed his arrest upon arrival a “kidnapping”.
Mr Memon landed at Benazir Bhutto International Airport late on Saturday night after nearly two years in self-imposed exile, but was immediately picked up by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and released soon afterwards.
Mr Memon returned after obtaining protective bail from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and after giving an assurance that he would appear before the court on Monday.
Ex-Sindh minister says NAB kidnapped him, to appear before IHC today
At a press conference on Sunday, the former Sindh minister called NAB’s action ‘arm-twisting’ and political victimisation of the opposition at the behest of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
However, he claimed that he was detained at the runway by the NAB officials in plainclothes, who took him to the bureau’s headquarters in a “suspicious” manner.
He was set free after he showed the NAB people the IHC’s protective bail order.
However, sources in NAB said the bureau had formed a legal team to pursue the case against the former legislator of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). NAB is expected to seek Mr Memon’s custody on Monday to investigate a Rs5 billion case of misuse of power in which he is accused of giving Sindh government’s advertisements to seven advertising agencies.
The case is being tried in a Karachi accountability court and four of the seven ads companies have already made Voluntary Return deals with NAB. The
complaint against the ex-minister was lodged by a director of his own ministry in 2013.
“I have serious objections on the way I was arrested. I asked the NAB officials to introduce themselves, but they did not tell me who they were or where they were taking me,” Mr Memon told reporters on Sunday.
“After reaching the NAB headquarters, NAB officials treated me politely and released me when I showed them the bail orders of the Islamabad High Court,” he said.
Mr Memon alleged that there were different laws for the ruling party and opposition members in the country.
He vowed to go to the court against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the controversial sale of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft to Germany on throwaway prices, as well as his involvement in mega corruption cases.
“The name of the prime minister, his brother Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Punjab Minister Rana Mashhood came [up in the list of] mega corruption cases [being investigated by] NAB but no action has been taken against them so far; their names have not even been put on the exit control list,” he added.
Asked why he left the country and stayed abroad for two years, the PPP leader said he was abroad for medical treatment and that doctors did not allow him to travel. “Now, when my doctors permitted me to travel, I decided to return to my country to face the case, which was why I wrote to the IHC for bail,” he said.
He claimed that while he was in Dubai, a private TV channel ran a fake story claiming that his residence in Karachi was raided by NAB and Rs2bn was recovered. “That was a baseless story and I have served a notice on the TV channel and written to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to take action, but nothing was done,” he added.
If the IHC rejects Mr Memon’s bail plea today (Monday), he can be arrested by NAB outside the courtroom and presented before the accountability court concerned to seek his physical remand.
Mohammad Hussain Khan adds from Hyderabad: Reacting to the treatment meted out to Mr Memon, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Sunday warned federal institutions that if they continued to take actions on political basis, there was no room for such partiality in Sindh.
Speaking to journalists after visiting an under-construction power plant in Nooriabad, he said there were several people involved in mega corruption cases who continued to roam free.
In reply to a question, Mr Shah said there was a major difference between the cases of Mr Memon and Dr Farooq Sattar, a leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan. He said that Mr Memon had returned home under a court’s order.
He said that PPP had always faced cases and respected the courts.
In a sarcastic jibe against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said the PM had finally visited Sindh in the run up to next year’s elections, adding that it would be better if he had announced the execution of projects that were presented to him by the Sindh government.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2017