Gill accuses former FIA chief of tax evasion

ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Imran Khan rejected the serious allegations levelled by former Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general Bashir Memon against him and his adviser concerning the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case, Special Assistant to the PM on Political Information Dr Shahbaz Gill alleged that the ex-DG had misused his authority to set up three industries in tax-free tribal areas.

“How have you established three mills in North Waziristan and imported oil without paying tax?” the PM’s aide questioned while addressing a press conference on Friday.

Mr Gill, however, said his statement was not a final judgement, but needed investigation.

The presser was held in response to the former FIA chief’s disclosure that the reference against Justice Isa was pre-planned for which he had been asked by PM’s Adviser on Accounta­bility Mirza Shahzad Akbar and Law Minister Farogh Naseem to initiate investigations that he had plainly refused even after his meeting with the prime minister.

Earlier on April 28, Mr Akbar sent a legal notice to Mr Memon while rejecting the allegations as baseless and false.

Mr Gill alleged that the ex-DG tried to give a political colour to his removal from the FIA, because he had found out that after other tax evaders, he too would be caught by the prime minister and penalised for tax evasion. “Memon knew that all his black deeds will be exposed,” the PM’s aide remarked.

The prime minister also had rejected the allegations and said he had never asked the former FIA chief to file a reference or initiate investigations against Justice Isa of the Supreme Court. “When I knew that he (Memon) could not file any reference against the sitting judge, then how I can order him to do so,” the premier was quoted as telling some TV anchorpersons.

Mr Khan claimed the ex-DG used to meet him to apprise him on proceedings of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed in Omni Group money laundering case. He said Mr Memon was removed from his office for not pursuing investigation into the allegations against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Asif regarding keeping a work permit of the UAE despite being the defence and finance minister of Pakistan then.

Mr Memon claimed he had resigned from the position of FIA DG and not removed but suspended a few weeks before his retirement. Soon after his retirement, the government withheld his pension and post-retirement benefits compelling him to move the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Later at a hearing of the case in September 2020, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah questioned the government under which law the officer’s pension had been suspended.

Meeting on CPEC

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan, his cabinet ministers, the military leadership and high officials in a meeting reviewed the progress of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative.

Mr Khan was briefed about the progress of the ongoing projects in various sectors under the umbrella of CPEC. The meeting was also informed that the government not only completed the ongoing projects started by the previous government, but also completed a number of significant projects that it had initiated over the past two and a half years.

Regarding the infrastructure development projects, the meeting was informed that most of the work regardless of which government had initiated a project had been completed by this government. It was told that special economic zones including Rashakai and Dhabeji, besides Allama Iqbal Industrial City and Gwadar Industrial Zones were attracting foreign and local investment. The meeting was further apprised that the Chinese government was extending cooperation in the agriculture and livestock sectors as well.

Mr Khan expressed his satisfaction on the pace of ongoing projects and reiterated the resolve to complete the CPEC projects at all cost. He said the CPEC was a testimony of time-tested and deep-rooted Pakistan-China friendship. He said focus of the industrialisation should be export oriented and import substitution and the government policies should be framed accordingly.

He also directed the relevant authorities to prepare the youth to take up the jobs being created by the incoming industry and high quality farms.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen, Minister for Industries Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar, Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning Asad Umar, Adviser to Prime Minister Abdul Razak Dawood, National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousuf, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Board of Investment chairman Atif Bukhari, CPEC Authority chairman retired Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa and other high-ranking officials also attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2021

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