ISLAMABAD: Amid heightened political tension in the country, former chief of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Bashir Memon has accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of pressurising him to prosecute main opposition leaders on serious charges though there was no evidence to do so.

In an interview to journalist Matiullah Jan for the latter’s YouTube channel, Mr Memon disclosed that in a meeting at “the highest office” many names like Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz and Salman Shahbaz came up. “In fact their entire family was expected to be booked by me in 56 fake companies cases which are now before the court. I told them that being a provincial matter this was beyond my mandate as [the head of] a federal agency.”

Asked what more expectations he [the prime minister] had from the FIA with regard to Nawaz Sharif or Maryam Nawaz, the former FIA chief said whatever was happening to Mr Sharif’s son-in-law, retired Capt Safdar, now was exactly what he [the prime minister] had wanted him to do.

According to Mr Memon, the premier was resentful because he thought he (Memon) was lenient on the Sharif family. “I told him that he had the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at his disposal to do all these things.”

Bashir Memon was sent home by PTI govt a few days before his retirement

The former FIA director general also accused PM Khan of showing indignation at the FIA’s determination to recover dues from the Abraaj group of companies to the tune of Rs87 billion for payment to the government’s own Sui Southern Gas Company.

“That company has been destroyed [by your order],” Mr Memon quoted the prime minister as telling him, adding that the prime minister accused the FIA of not being fair with the company.

Mr Memon said that in the same meeting the PM expressed his desire that former defence minister and opposition leader Khawaja Asif be tried for treason under Article 6 of the Constitution for being gainfully employed in a Gulf country while being a defence minister. “I told him that this could not be done because establishing the charge without evidence of treason would not be possible.”

The prime minister, Mr Memon said, angrily got up and accused him of being afraid of the Sharif family. “I said, ‘Look Mr Prime Minister, I already hold the highest service in grade 22 and there is no post higher than that of the DG FIA. So we have to move on like this because I have only three months left in my retirement and I don’t care anymore.’”

Mr Memon was first sent on leave and then transferred from the post of FIA chief and asked to report to the establishment division a few days before his retirement. He sent his resignation as a mark of protest saying: “It is usual courtesy in official working not to post out any officer nearing retirement. I have been denied this courtesy which in my opinion is an expression of displeasure towards me.”

He was also not in the good books of the Pakistan Peoples Party when he was FIA chief. A month before the July 2018 general elections, the PPP asked the caretaker prime minister to transfer him alleging that he was illegally using his official position to facilitate his brother, Naseer Memon, who was contesting election on a Sindh Assembly seat from the platform of the Grand Democratic Alliance.

In the interview with Mr Jan, the former FIA DG praised NAB chief Justice retired Javed Iqbal — but not without a rider. “With the arrival of the NAB chairman on the scene, pressure shifted away from me. I am indebted to him for that.”

Mr Memon said when he heard (judges’) remarks and judgements in NAB cases in Punjab and Sindh courts, he thanked God for saving him from “this humiliation”.

“Everything that NAB has done so far,” Mr Memon said when asked what exactly the prime minister wanted from him to do as the FIA chief.

Mr Memon also disclosed that he had been asked to register a terrorism case against Maryam Nawaz and her social media team over a picture of the first lady circulating on social media and “I told them that this was not a terrorism case,” he said.

In the second part of the two-part interview, Mr Memon told Mr Jan that Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Shah once called him to angrily complain against a journalist. “Break his legs,” Mr Memon quoted the minister as saying. “In Punjabi he sounded like saying ‘Lattan Bhan Diyo’.” He was referring to renowned journalist Ahmed Noorani who, after uploading a controversial tweet, had narrowly escaped death in a broad daylight attack by unidentified people in Islamabad a year ago.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2020