FORMER DG FIA Bashir Memon has opened a Pandora’s box by saying that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted him to initiate proceedings against Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa. In a wide-ranging interview on a private channel, Mr Memon alleged that Mr Khan and his team repeatedly asked him to take action against opposition leaders regardless of the lack of evidence against them. He also said the prime minister wanted him to register a treason case against PML-N leader Khawaja Asif for holding a foreign work permit, and demanded that he register a terrorism case against Maryam Nawaz for her press conference in which she ‘terrorised’ a judge of the accountability court.
Mr Memon said he refused these demands because in his opinion there was no evidence available to proceed against these people. He said he was punished by being removed from his position a few days before his retirement. On Thursday, in a meeting with journalists, Mr Khan denied all these allegations. Others who Mr Memon named, including Law Minister Farogh Naseem and accountability adviser Shehzad Akbar, have also rubbished these claims and sent legal notices to the former FIA chief.
The matter should not end here. As a senior officer, Mr Memon served in responsible positions while in service. He has come up with serious charges against those at the highest level. Even if there is a grain of truth to them, his allegations should concern everyone who adheres to the rule of law. It is unfortunate that in Pakistan almost all governments have wielded power at the expense of their opponents. With the sword of the executive authority in their hands, and no shortage of officials willing to do their bidding, governments have run roughshod over their opponents while shielding their own people from the glare of the law. It has been an unwritten rule among politicians that executive power shall be used with no pretence of equality and those who end up in the opposition should be prepared to pay the price of being on the wrong side of the political divide. This is why the PTI’s narrative of change, and of smashing this very status quo, appealed to so many Pakistanis. It is therefore all the more shocking to hear the same allegations now being hurled at the PTI leadership.
The accusations may well be unfounded. However, it is critical that these allegations are investigated in order for the people to know the truth. Mr Memon has said he is ready to face any inquiry into this matter. He should be taken up on this offer. One way to unearth the truth would be to form a judicial commission that can probe the allegations without fear of pressure from the government. The PTI leadership should have no hesitation in offering itself for accountability, a process which it has always subscribed to.
Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2021