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LAHORE: The Intelli­gence Bureau’s (IB) probe to identify the culprit responsible for circulating a ‘fake’ list of 37 parliamentarians, mostly members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, who were alleged to have links with proscribed outfits, has established that it was not an inside job.

“We have completed a departmental inquiry regarding the preparation and dissemination of the fake list of MNAs and found that none of our members are involved in it,” IB chief Aftab Sultan told Dawn on Tuesday.

He said since the IB was party to the case, the investigation to determine whose handiwork it was, would be conducted by police.

When asked why the IB was not a part of the investigation to trace the culprit(s), Mr Aftab said, “We have only carried out an internal inquiry. We are not mandated to investigate this matter outside of our organisation.”

The IB chief added that his organisation was also pursuing a case with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) against the TV channel that had broadcast this list.

Last week, the IB got an FIR registered under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code against unidentified persons and a private TV channel.

The complainant had sought legal action against those responsible for preparing a “fake” document on a “fake” letter pad of the IB. According to the IB, the letter was aired on ARY News channel to “cause animosity between parliamentarians and a sensitive state organisation”.

After the matter was raised in the parliament by Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Pirzada, whose name was also on that list, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told the National Assembly that the letter had been forged and an investigation would be conducted to trace the culprit(s) behind it. However, the premier had not specified a deadline.

Talking to Dawn on Tuesday, Arshad Sharif, the anchorperson of the ARY programme in question, said the news story he had broken on his talk show was true because he had triple-checked it with the IB, the Prime Minister’s House and journalistic sources. “This has happened many a time in the past...the government first denies [a story] but when the facts came to light, it backtracks,” he said.

Mr Sharif also questioned reports that the IB chief had suspected that ‘someone’ from his organisation might be involved in forging his signature.

“The IB does not have the locus standi to lodge an FIR in this matter,” he said, and added that the Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime wing had also been asked to register an FIR (in this regard).

The Secretariat Police Station in Islamabad has not summoned Mr Sharif or anyone from the IB so far. Mr Sharif has appeared before Pemra and recorded his statement. He complained about being pressured.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2017