• Meets parliamentarians supporting Tareen
• Forms committee to look into lawmakers’ concerns
• FIA officer probing case against Tareen, son removed
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday categorically said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would not be influenced to give relief to the disgruntled leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Jahangir Tareen, in the sugar scam probe but he would personally look into the matter to avoid any political victimisation in the case.
He was talking to a delegation of some pro-Tareen lawmakers who called on him. Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar was also present in the meeting.
The head of the MNAs’ delegation, Raja Riaz, told media after attending the meeting that Prime Minister Khan had assured them that he would personally look into the case and ensure that no injustice was meted out to anyone.
“We have full confidence that the prime minister will not do injustice to anyone,” he said.
Interestingly, the prime minister formed a one-man committee comprising his confidant, Senator Syed Ali Zafar, to ascertain whether the delegation’s concerns that some people in the government and the PTI were politically victimising Jahangir Tareen were genuine. The decision to form the committee was made a day after media reports claimed the government had changed FIA’s sugar inquiry chief.
According to media reports, the sugar scam inquiry team’s head FIA Director for Lahore Mohammad Rizwan was removed from the investigation with immediate effect.
It may be mentioned here that Mr Rizwan’s removal was the main demand of the former PTI secretary general Jehangir Tareen and the lawmakers supporting him.
Information Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry confirmed that the prime minister had decided not to influence the FIA inquiry against Tareen and other sugar barons and that the case would be decided on merit.
“During the meeting, the prime minister was of the view that a party (PTI) formed in the name of justice could not allow two types of justice — one for the poor and the other for wealthy people,” he added.
“The prime minister said the FIA’s inquiry into the sugar scam would not be influenced at any cost. However, concerns of the MNAs will be addressed and it will be ensured that no one politically victimises Mr Tareen,” the minister quoted the prime minister as saying.
He said Mr Khan tasked Senator Ali Zafar to present a report to him, but no timeframe was given to the committee.
When asked whether there was a possibility of the MNAs supporting Tareen joining another political party, especially Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the minister said they would remain part of the ruling PTI.
The parliamentarians supporting Tareen have accused Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar of initiating undue action against Tareen and his son Ali Tareen by freezing their over two dozen bank accounts during the sugar scam investigations.
In a recent press conference, Jehangir Tareen had said that he was ready to face any inquiry but to drag his son into the case was unjustified.
The sugar baron had claimed the PML-N had also investigated his businesses during its tenure but even it had not turned a civil case into a criminal one against him.
The bail of both Jehangir Tareen and his son had already been extended till May by an additional sessions judge Lahore. Extending their interim bail, the court ordered the FIA to complete its investigation as soon as possible and submit the report.
According to their lawyer, there are three FIRs against Tareen and his son while the FIA had registered only two cases after a period of four-and-a-half months.
According to the FIRs dated March 22, two separate cases were registered under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating of public shareholders) and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), read with sections 3/4 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, against Tareen and his son.
The FIA, in the first FIR, had stated that Tareen had fraudulently misappropriated the shareholders’ money after his company, JDW Group, transferred Rs3.14 billion to an associated private company identified as Farooqi Pulp Private Limited.
The FIR had stated that the private company was owned by his sons and close relatives. Additionally, it had said that Tareen, his son and another family member had purchased US dollars from the open market in Lahore in a “structured manner”.
The second FIR had said that “voluminous withdrawals amounting to at least Rs2.2 billion were fraudulently and dishonestly made through a trusted cash rider”, and large amounts were deposited into the personal and business accounts of Tareen and his family members.
On the other hand, the opposition, especially PML-N leaders Rana Sanaullah and Talal Chaudhry, in TV shows blamed the government and Prime Minister Khan for using Mr Tareen’s money to run party matters and even making him head of the task force on agriculture.
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2021