Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday issued a formal clarification on the floor of the National Assembly regarding a list of lawmakers, allegedly issued by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), who were allegedly investigated for links to terrorist organisations.

The premier pointed out that the IB had already stated that the list was, in fact, a fake; adding that PM House had never sought such an investigation, as claimed in the letter.

“It was a fake document propagated with an intent to malign individuals,” Abbasi maintained. “Events like these harm the sanctity of the Parliament.”

The prime minister also stated that he had directed the IB to proceed with a legal case against whoever authored the fake letter while also directing the Pakistan Electronic Media Authority to take action against the broadcaster responsible for publishing it in line with its laws.

He further said that an FIR has also been registered and “investigations are underway to identify the culprit who propagated the fake news item”.

The list had first come to light when a private television channel aired a report claiming that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the IB on July 10 to keep watch on 37 listed legislators, most of whom belong to the PML-N, for alleged links to terrorist organisations.

The decision to issue the clarification was taken in a party meeting chaired by the prime minister earlier in the day. The PML-N lawmakers affected by the list had raised the issue in the meeting.

PM Abbasi was said to have decided that he would make the government's position clear on the floor of the Assembly while asking the lawmakers to not issue statements that could potentially "create trouble" for the government, sources said.

Minister for Inter-provincial Coordination Riaz Pirzada, who has repeatedly raised the issue in cabinet meetings and the NA, had said that he would no longer move a privilege motion against the IB but demanded that the government officially declare that the letter is fake.

However some other lawmakers have nonetheless decided to move a privilege motion, sources said.

“We believe that one of our colleagues became so embarrassed and tense after seeing his name on the list that he suffered a heart attack,” MNA Fayyazuddin Shaikh had previously said regarding MNA Najaf Abbas Siyal, who was admitted to hospital last week.

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