LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has approached the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) with a request to stop TV channels from airing interviews/comments of its (FIA) former chief Bashir Memon in the case involving an international fugitive.
The FIA is investigating its two former FIA chiefs — Bashir Memon and Saud Mirza — in the case for allegedly facilitating the fugitive, Umar Farooq Zahoor, who is wanted by Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and Pakistan since 2009-10 in various financial and other crimes.
In the letter to Pemra chairman Mohammad Saleem Baig, the FIA’s Lahore director said: “Bashir Memon is being investigated by the FIA for his close association with fugitive Zahoor and various charges of facilitating him. He has been formally served notice under section 160 CrPc to attend the investigation and explain as to why he used his position as Director General FIA/head of NCB Islamabad (Aug 2017-Nov 2019) to facilitate fugitive Zahoor wanted for very ‘serious financial crimes’. He (Memon) instead of appearing in the investigation proceedings and responding to the questions of the investigation officers exploited this notice to ‘catch media spotlight’, garner sympathy and make sub judice matter controversial.”
The FIA also said that Mr Memon in various talk shows made such comments which clearly prejudice the proceedings pending in the Supreme Court in the case petition 585/2021. “The SC in this petition has taken cognizance of the failure of institutions in enforcing various warrants (arrest of influential fugitive Umer Farooq Zahoor, presently hiding in the UAE, wanted for various international financial frauds, money laundering, etc) despite repeated directions of the apex court,” the FIA said.
The FIA requested the PEMRA chief to issue an “unequivocal directive” to all regulated electronic media news channels to suspend Bashir Memon from appearing in TV interviews or making comments with respect to the sub judice proceedings.
FIA chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi recently also constituted a four-member joint investigation team to pursue the repatriation of Zahoor.
The team comprising FIA Lahore Director Deputy Inspector General Muhammad Rizwan (convener), the Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) director, the joint interior secretary and the Middle East director at the Foreign Ministry has been mandated to pursue efforts (with the UAE government) regarding the extradition of Zahoor and co-suspect Muhammad Zubair, and repatriation of two minors.
Mr Memon and Mr Mirza have already appeared before the inquiry team for allegedly facilitating Zahoor. Both had sought record of the case/allegations from the agency.
Mr Bashir is on pre-arrest bail in the case he terms politically motivated since he resisted government pressure to lodge cases against opposition leaders.
Two Foreign Ministry officials — Middle East Director Saeed Sarwar and Dubai Deputy Consul General Giyan Chand — had also appeared before the FIA team and responded to allegations as to why they did not help the agency extradite Zahoor to Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022