ISLAMABAD: A three-member commission formed on the instructions of the Supreme Court to probe the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) sit-in at Faizabad Interchange in 2017 on Tuesday grilled Fawad Hasan Fawad, who was the principal secretary to the prime minister at that time.

Officials sources told Dawn the examination led to a heated exchange between the former bureaucrat and the commission members, with Mr Fawad visibly annoyed by some of the questions asked by the panel.

At one point, he got up from his chair to leave the room, but the commission members managed to stop him to ask further queries.

Sources said Fawad Hasan Fawad was accorded a protocol reserved for a federal minister when he arrived at the commission’s office.

Caretaker minister says commission not formed in accordance with rules

The former bureaucrat was given a sofa to sit in instead of a chair. Sources said he was also offered tea and water but did not touch anything.

The commission asked Mr Fawad about his role as the principal secretary during the TLP sit-in.

He responded that the principal secretary had nothing to do with such matters, as the minister and the secretary concerned directly reported to the prime minister about such matters.

Mr Fawad, now a caretaker minister for privatisation, was one of the participants of a meeting chaired by the then PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that decided to hold talks with the TLP.

The commission asked whether the former secretary was briefed by the police chief and the local administration regarding the law and order during the sit-in and whether he shared these details with the prime minister.

It also asked if the prime minister had shared any directives with the former secretary to relay them to the police chief and the commissioner.

These questions annoyed the former principal secretary and he attempted to leave the room, but the commission convinced him to stay for some more queries.

A visibly irked Fawad told the members that he did not recognise the commission, claiming that the body was not formed according to the rules.

Upon further inquiry, Mr Fawad told the commission that he instructed and relayed the messages of the government to the police and administration officers during the 2014 sit-in, the sources said, adding that the former bureaucrat “could not remember any further details”.

Mr Fawad also could not share details of the 2017 sit-in with the commission because he “did not remember them anymore”.

At this, the commission members expressed surprise and said the ex-secretary could remember the details of the 2014 sit-in but not the 2017. This irritated Fawad, who said he did not acknowledge the “authenticity” of the commission.

He informed the commission he needed to leave due to his travel engagements. The commission handed over a questionnaire to the former secretary comprising over a dozen queries and asked him to submit a reply in writing.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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