name='verify-v1'/>"> MediaTrial: December 6, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

NAB summons Babar Awan, others in HSM probe case

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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan and top legal gurus of the country, accused of getting bribes from the owners of the Haris Steel Mills, Lahore, for getting a favourable verdict from the court in the Rs 9 billion loan scam in the Bank of Punjab.

A NAB official told The News on Friday on condition of anonymity that the NAB authorities had informed the Supreme Court about summoning of the senior lawyers for investigation into the Haris Steel Mills probe case. He said that they have summoned Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, Sharifuddin Pirzada, former Attorney General Malik Qayyum and Ali Sajjad, son of Senator Wasim Sajjad, and they would possibly be interrogated today (Saturday).

On November 24, Sheikh Afzal, owner of Haris Steel Industries and the main accused in financial scam of Rs9 billion at the Bank of Punjab (BoP) had revealed before the bench of the Supreme Court to have given Rs35 million to Dr Babar Awan, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, for winning the case in the apex court. Sheikh Afzal, who was absconder in the BoP scam, was recently arrested by the FIA from Malaysia, along with his son Haris Afzal, and was produced before a three member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The BoP had granted a loan of Rs9 billion to the Haris Steel Industries (HSI), Lahore, without fulfilling legal requirements and consequently the Industries defaulted the loan. The Bank of Punjab then filed a petition against HSI.

Sheikh Afzal had submitted to have given Rs5 million as fees to senior advocate of the Supreme Court and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, besides giving him Rs35 million for assuring of winning the case.

Sheikh Afzal disclosed a list to the newsmen of top lawyers who extorted millions of rupees from him to clear his loan default cases from the courts. He alleged that Sharifuddin Pirzada took Rs10 million, Malik Qayyum Rs20 million and Ali Waseem Rs7.5 million.

Presidency says Zardari did not launder money through Citibank

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The Presidency has officially claimed that the US Congressional Subcommittee on Money Laundering had cleared Asif Ali Zardari, as it had found no evidence that Citibank or any other private bank knowingly helped Mr Salinas (of Mexico), or any other criminals launder dirty money.

This official statement has been released by the spokesman of the president Farhatullah Babar in response to questions sent to him about the details provided by the Citibank’s top administration to the US Subcommittee on Money Laundering in November 1999.

Mr Babar in his response said in 1998 a US Senate subcommittee was formed to probe Citibank practices and to ascertain whether it had exercised “due diligence” in opening private bank accounts of high profile persons. The subcommittee was to scrutinise the Citibank practices and not to probe Asif Ali Zardari for money laundering. In fact, the Congress itself stated at the time that it had not alleged wrongdoing against Mr Zardari.

However, when the reports of Citibank probe became public a section of press declared that the US Congress was scrutinising Asif Ali Zardari’s accounts for investigating money laundering. Mr Zardari immediately contradicted the reports saying that since he did not have an account with the Citibank there was no question of his accounts being investigated for money laundering.

He also clarified that the US Congress was scrutinising the Citibank’s practices and not his accounts, which did not even exist. “Subsequently a year later the position of Senator Zardari was vindicated by the Chairman of the Senate subcommittee Senator Susan Collins after the conclusion of the probe. The subcommittee had uncovered no evidence that Citibank or any other private bank knowingly helped Mr Salinas (of Mexico) or any other criminals launder dirty money.”

“There was no mention of the name of Asif Ali Zardari let alone the allegation of money laundering against him in the Senate sub committee’s report.”

“Yesterday Mr Zardari was victim of a vicious media trial for being the spouse of PPP Chairperson Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Today he is victim of even more intense tirade for having graduated to become the leader of the PPP and the president. For the PPP it is dÈj‡ vu.”

Mr Babar was asked about the $60 million Swiss account of Asif Ali Zardari, which was frozen and then released under the NRO, and details of which were presented by the Swiss Citibank’s top management before a US Congressional committee as a special case study in Nov 1999.

A report prepared later by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing private banking and money laundering issues, chose Asif Zardari’s case as one of the four case studies and gave minute details about how the account was opened, which was involved and how much money was stashed.

The report, which is now part of public congressional record and is also available on the website of the sub-committee, says during the period of 1994 to 1997, Citibank opened and maintained three private bank accounts in Switzerland and a consumer account in Dubai for three corporations under Mr Zardari’s control. There are allegations that some of these accounts were used to disguise $10 million in kickbacks for a gold importing contract to Pakistan.

“Mr Zardari’s relationship with Citibank began in October 1994, through the services of Kamran Amouzegar, a private banker at Citibank private bank in Switzerland, and Jens Schlegelmilch, a Swiss lawyer who was the Bhutto family’s attorney in Europe and close personal friend for more than 20 years. According to Citibank, Mr Schlegelmilch represented to Mr Amouzegar that he was working for the Dubai royal family and he wanted to open some accounts at the Citibank branch office in Dubai. Mr Schlegelmilch had a Dubai residency permit and a visa signed by a member of the Dubai royal family. Mr Amouzegar agreed to introduce Mr Schlegelmilch to a banker in the Citibank branch office in Dubai.

According to Citicorp, Mr Schlegelmilch told the Citibank Dubai banker that he wanted to open an account in the name of M S Capricorn Trading, a British Virgin Island PIC. The stated purpose of the account was to receive money and transfer it to Switzerland. The account was opened in early October 1994. Mr Schlegelmilch informed the Dubai banker that he would serve as the representative of the account and the signatory on the account. Under Dubai law, a bank is not required to know an account’s beneficial owner, only the signatory

Citibank told the Subcommittee staff that Mr Schlegelmilch did not reveal to the Dubai banker that Mr Zardari was the beneficial owner of the PIC, and the account manager never asked him the identity of the beneficial owner of the account. Instead, according to Citibank, she assumed the beneficial owner of the account was the member of the royal family who had signed Mr Schlegelmilch’s visa.

On February 27, 1995, Mr Schlegelmilch, working with Mr Amouzegar, opened three accounts at the Citibank Switzerland private bank. The accounts were opened in the name of M S Capricorn Trading, which already had an account at Citibank’s Dubai branch, as well as Marvel and Bomer Finance, two other British Virgin Island PICs established by Mr Schlegelmilch.

Each private bank account listed Mr Schlegelmilch as the account contact and signatory. Citibank informed the subcommittee that the Swiss Form A, a government-required beneficial owner identification form, identified Mr Zardari as the beneficial owner of each PIC. The decision to allow Mr Schlegelmilch to open the three accounts on behalf of Mr Zardari, according to Citibank, involved officials at the highest levels of the private bank. The officials included: Mr Amouzegar, the private banker; Mr Deepak Sharma, then head of private bank operations in Pakistan; Mr Phillipe Holderbeke, then head of private bank operations in Switzerland (who became head of the Europe, Middle East, Africa Division in February 1996); and Mr Hubertus Rukavina, then head of the Citibank private bank.

According to Citibank, Mr Amouzegar informed his superiors that Mr Zardari was the beneficial owner of the Capricorn account in Dubai when they were considering the request to open the accounts in Switzerland.

Citibank told the subcommittee staff that the private bank decided to allow Mr Schlegelmilch to open the three accounts for Mr Zardari on the condition that the private bank would not be the primary accounts for Mr Zardari’s assets and the accounts would function as passive investment accounts.

Citibank told the subcommittee staff that Mr Holderbeke signed a memo delineating the restrictions placed on the accounts, including a $40 million aggregate limit on the size of the three accounts, and transaction restrictions requiring the accounts to function as passive, stable investments, without multiple transactions or funding pass-through.

Citibank told the subcommittee staff that, once opened, only three deposits were made into the M S Capricorn Trading account in Dubai. Two deposits, totaling $10 million were made into the account almost immediately after it was opened. Citibank records show that one $5 million deposit was made on October 5, 1994, and another was made on October 6, 1994. The source of both the deposits was ARY International Exchange, a company owned by Abdul Razzak Yaqub, a Pakistani gold bullion trader living in Dubai.

On February 25, 1995, a third deposit of $8 million was made into the Dubai M S Capricorn Trading account. Records show that the payment was made through American Express, with the originator of the account listed as “Morgan NYC.” Citibank indicated it did not know who Morgan NYC was, nor did it know the source of the $8 million.

All of the funds in the Dubai account of M S Capricorn Trading were moved to the Swiss accounts in the spring of 1995. On March 6, 1995, $8.1 million was transferred; and on May 5, 1995, another $10.2 million was transferred. Both the transfers involved US dollars and were routed through Citibank’s New York offices.

Citibank informed the subcommittee staff that M S Capricorn Trading closed its Dubai account shortly after the last transfer was completed. Citibank indicated that significant amounts of other funds were also deposited into the Swiss accounts. As described below, the $40 million cap was reached, and millions of additional dollars also passed through those accounts. However, Swiss bank secrecy law prevented the subcommittee from obtaining the details on the transactions in the Zardari accounts.

Citibank told the subcommittee staff that, in 1996, the Swiss office of the private bank conducted a number of reviews of the Zardari Swiss accounts, finally deciding in October to close them. Increasing publicity about allegations of corruption against Mr Zardari allegedly in early 1996 triggered the first review. Citibank told the subcommittee staff that Messrs Holderbeke, Sharma and Amouzegar were among the participants in the review, and apparently concluded that the allegations were politically motivated and that the accounts should remain opened. The subcommittee staff was told that the review did not include looking into the accounts’ transaction activity.

In March or April 1996, Mr Amouzegar asked that the overall limit on the Zardari accounts be increased from $40 million to $60 million, apparently because the accounts had reached the previously imposed limit of $40 million. Citibank told the subcommittee staff that Mr Holderbeke considered the request, but declined to increase the $40 million limit.

In June, press reports in the United Kingdom that Mr Zardari purchased real estate in London triggered still another review of the Zardari accounts. Citibank private bank told the subcommittee staff that its Swiss office internally discussed the source of the funds for the property purchase. Mr Amouzegar and another official then met Mr Schlegelmilch, who allegedly informed them that funds had been deposited into the Citibank accounts, transferred to another PIC account outside the Citibank and used to purchase the property.

In July 1996, after Mr Amouzegar left the private bank to open his own company, another private banker, Cedric Grant, took over management of the Zardari accounts. Citibank told the subcommittee staff that Mr Grant began to review the Zardari accounts about one month later to familiarize him with them. In October, Mr Grant completed his review of the Zardari accounts and provided a written analysis to Messrs Holderbeke, Sharma and another official, according to Citibank. Mr Grant had found numerous violations of the account restrictions imposed by Citibank, including multiple transactions and funding pass-through. Citibank told the subcommittee staff that the accounts had functioned more as checking accounts than passive investment accounts, directly contrary to the private bank’s restrictions.

Apparently, well over $40 million had flowed through the accounts, though subcommittee staff was unable to ascertain the actual amount because Swiss bank secrecy law prohibits Citibank from sharing that information with the subcommittee. Citibank indicated that Mr Amouzegar had either ignored or did not pay attention to the account activity. Mr Grant recommended closing the accounts, and they were closed by January 1997.

On September 8, 1997, the Swiss government issued orders freezing the Zardari and Bhutto accounts at Citibank and three other banks in Switzerland at the request of the Pakistani government. Since Citibank had closed its Zardari accounts in January 1997, it took no action nor did it make any effort to inform US authorities of the accounts until late November 1997. Citibank contacted the Federal Reserve and OCC about the Zardari accounts in late November, in anticipation of a New York Times article that eventually ran in January 1998, alleging that Mr Zardari had accepted bribes, and that he held Citibank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland.

On December 8 and 11, 1997, Citibank briefed the OCC and the Federal Reserve, respectively, about the accounts and the steps it had taken as a result of the Zardari matter. These steps included: closing all of the accounts that had been referred by Mr Schlegelmilch to the private bank and terminating his referral agreement; reviewing all of the accounts opened in the Dubai office; and tightening up account opening procedures in Dubai, including requiring the Dubai office to identify the beneficial owner of all Dubai accounts. Citibank did not identify any changes made or planned for the Swiss office, even though the majority of the activities with respect to the Zardari accounts had taken place in Switzerland.

On December 5, 1997, Citibank prepared a Suspicious Activity Report on the Zardari accounts and filed it with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the U.S. Department of Treasury. The filing was made fourteen months after its decision to close the Zardari accounts; thirteen months after Mr. Zardari was arrested a second time for corruption in November 1996; and nearly two months after the Swiss government had ordered four Swiss banks (including Citibank Switzerland) to freeze all Zardari accounts.

In June 1998, Switzerland indicted Mr. Schlegelmilch and two Swiss businessmen, the former senior executive vice president of SGS and the managing director of Cotecna, for money laundering in connection with kickbacks paid by the Swiss companies for the award of a government contract by Pakistan. In July 1998, Mr Zardari was indicted for violation of Swiss money laundering law in connection with the same incident. Ms Bhutto was indicted in Switzerland for the same offence in August 1998.

In October 1998, Pakistan indicted Mr Zardari and Ms Bhutto for accepting kickbacks from the two Swiss companies in exchange for the award of a government contract. On April 15, 1999, after an 18-month trial, Lahore High Court convicted Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari for accepting the kickbacks and sentenced them to 5 years in prison, fined them $8.6 million and disqualified them from holding public office. Ms Bhutto, who was then living in London, denounced the decision. Mr Zardari remained in jail. Additional criminal charges were lying pending against both in Pakistani courts.

On December 11, 1997, Citicorp’s Chairman John Reed wrote the following to the Board of Directors: “We have another issue with the husband of ex-Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan. I do not yet understand the facts but I am inclined to think that we made a mistake. More reason than ever to rework our Private Bank.”

The Zardari case history took place during a series of critical internal and federal audits between 1992 and 1997 of the Swiss office, which, during most of that time, served as the headquarters of the private bank. The shortcomings identified in the audits included policies, procedures and problems that affected the management of the Zardari accounts. They included: failure of the “corporate culture” in the Swiss office to foster “a climate of integrity, ethical conduct and prudent risk taking” by the US standards”; inadequate due diligence; “less than acceptable internal controls”; lack of oversight and control of third party referral agents such as Schlegelmilch; and inadequate monitoring of accounts.

Another US Consulate vehicle intercepted

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Another Land Cruiser of the US Consulate was intercepted on Friday by the security personnel at a check-post near the Sherpao Bridge and impounded at the Sawvar Road police station after its number plate was found bogus.

Officials of the law-enforcement agencies stopped the Land Cruiser (No IDL-1967) around 1:30 pm and demanded documents of the vehicle. The security personnel at the check-post forced the driver to park the vehicle on service lane.

They checked the documents and, finding the number plate of the Land Cruiser fake, took it to the Sarwar Road police station. Besides driver, there were two other people in the vehicle, including a female official, Morgan, of the US Consulate. The suspects were allowed to go after the American Consulate and the federal government intervened.

US FBI agents and their Pakistani colleagues interrogated on Friday five young American Muslims who wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight US-led forces, Pakistani officials said.

The case is bound to fan fears in Western countries that the sons of immigrants from Muslim countries are being drawn to Islamist militancy, a process made easier by the Internet. The five men, students in their 20s from northern Virginia, were detained this week in Sargodha in the Punjab province.

The five men tried to contact militants and stayed in touch with each other through the Internet, Pakistani security officials said, highlighting the difficulty authorities are facing in trying to track and disrupt plots organised online. Police in Sargodha took the first step toward filing charges with complaints based on laws pertaining to foreigners and the use of computers to organise crime. “A case has been registered against the five for violating Pakistan’s foreigners and cyber acts,” Sargodha police chief Usman Anwar told Reuters.

Five young Americans arrested in Pakistan for trying to join Islamist militant groups will not be deported unless police clear them of any crimes, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Friday. The group of the US citizens have been grilled by the FBI and Pakistani officials. They are accused of seeking to engage in militant activities and trying travel to the northwest Taliban heartland, officials said.

District police chief of Sargodha Usman Anwar told local television channels on Friday that the men he arrested had come to Pakistan to try and join Islamist militant groups and travel to the northwest Taliban heartland.

They had tried to contact jihadi groups in Pakistan through YouTube and other websites, he said and added that they were US citizens with origins in other countries, including two Pakistani-Americans.

“All of them are in the custody of police in Sargodha. They are being interrogated and will not be deported,” the interior minister said. He added: “If they are involved in any act of terror or (had) the intention of doing a terrorist act, we will take action according to our law. We can only deport them once our law enforcement agencies or courts clear them.”

Malik told reporters that the five Americans were arrested on intelligence passed on through the US embassy in Pakistan, which informed that the men “may do some act of terror or sabotage activity”.

“It appeared from the documents and maps they were carrying that their destination was Miramshah. This indicates what they were up to.” A spokesman at the US embassy in Islamabad, Richard Snelsire said four of the five men had been confirmed as US citizens.

Mom & pop company rakes up quake victims’ funds

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Despite sharp focus of the entire nation, the media, the judiciary and politicians, a top executive of the NWFP’s Erra, an organisation supposed to help earthquake victims, unabashedly formed a mom & pop company and awarded all tractor contracts to his daughter while his wife ran the company’s bank account running into millions of rupees.

An official inquiry into the alleged unique fraud involved the topmost executive of the Provincial Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority known as PERRA in the procurement of “poor quality” tractors for the quake-affected areas.

The whole deal was done in a manner that everything was kept within the family, the father bought the machinery, his daughter’s company sold the machinery and the money went into the account of his wife.

PERRA Director-General Nasir Azam, however, explained his daughter’s company is carrying out the tractor business since 1999 and denied he had either manoeuvred anything or given approval to this purchase from PERRA funds. The tractors purchased were found to be of poor quality and not suitable for use in hilly areas.

The Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (Erra), which is part of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, is pressing the NWFP chief minister to remove the PERRA director-general, book him and hold inquiry against all others involved, but the provincial government is unmoved.

A source in the Chief Minister Secretariat said NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Hoti is allegedly protecting the officer, who is closely related to him. Sources close to the chief minister, however, insist Hoti would take decision on merit.

The PERRA director-general confirmed his relationship with the chief minister, saying the chief minister’s brother is his brother-in-law. Sources said three inquiries, one conducted by the provincial inspection team (PIT), second by the NAB and the third by the Erra, probed the matter but no head had rolled as yet. Interestingly, the provincial inspection team (PIT) confirmed the fraud but it recommended action against two local officials of Manshera and did not suggest anything against the Perra director-general.

The NAB and the Erra, however, found the director-general as the major player in this alleged fraud. Documents shared with The News by a Chief Minister Secretariat source show the federal government has formally approached NWFP Chief Minister Hoti as well as the chief secretary for action against the Perra director-general and others involved.

According to Erra’s inquiry, a PC-I for solid waste management for the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) Mansehra was approved by the district earthquake authority on November 11, 2007, at a cost of Rs 26 million, cleared by the Project Evaluation Cell (PEC) of Erra on December 18, 2007, vide letter No 104(8)/ERRA/P/PEC/07.

In the said original PC-I, excavator, water bouzer, two dump trucks (mini), sewerage clearing machine, 100 wheel burrows, wireless system and 150 waste bins were to be procured.

Later, the original PC-I was revised to Rs26.432 million whereby the former four machinery items were substituted by 25 tractors. As a matter of policy and rule, the inquiry said, the revision ought to have been made by the competent forums but the PERRA director-general by violating the procedure/rules accorded approval on his own.

After revision an advertisement was floated in newspapers for purchase of small tractors on February 2009 but the ad contained certain shortcomings and lapses including: i) eligibility and qualification criteria for the prospective bidders was not mentioned; ii) the response time was less than what is prescribed in PPRA; and iii) bid documents/tender documents were not prepared. The report said the official record revealed a committee comprising PERRA director-general Nasir Azam, TMA Manshera Abdul Rehman and other local officials, including Ajmal Khan, Abdul Latif, Tehsil Officer, TMA, Mansehra and Muhammad Javed recommended the purchase of tractors. A total of 49 (25 and then 24) tractors were purchased.

Non-observance of proper procedure of procurement as per PPRA rules, the report said, led the entire process to faulty procurement and none of the participating bidders was eligible to bid. There are two different comparative statements available on record of participating bidders. In the first statement, the bidders were: Ayesha Enterprises, New Holland Attock, New Holland Haripur, Falcow Associate Peshawar and National Machinery Store Haripur; whereas in the second statement, the bidders were Ayesha Enterprises, Gull enterprises, Ahsan traders and Falcow Associates.

In both the statements, M/s Ayesha Enterprises has been shown as the lowest bidder and the cost per tractor with trolley was same as Rs460,000. It is also a matter of concern that none of the bidders has submitted quotations on the proper letterhead of the company, where no registration/NTN was mentioned, which proved that none of the firms/bidders was eligible for award of contract.

The report said a total of Rs11.339 million was paid to M/s Ayesha Enterprises for purchase of 25 tractors. According to prevailing market rates, the unit cost per tractor is exorbitant. Consequently the public exchequer had to sustain loss of Rs4.310 million as per inquiry report already completed by the PIT.

According to rules, no payment can be disbursed to a company/firm, which is not GST registered while the finance wing of PERRA made payment to M/s Ayesha Enterprises without proper invoice and without ascertaining GST registration of the supplier.

The ERRA report said the PIT recommended action against only two officers, i.e., Mr Abdul Rehman, TMO, TMA, Mansehra and Mr Abdul Latif, TOI, TMA, Mansehra under the NWFP Removal from Services Ordinance, 2000, besides seeking recovery of the loss.

ERRA wondered how come the PIT simply ignored the PERRA director-general, who had acted as head of the purchase committee. “The purchase committee in its entirety is responsible as it failed to dispense its obligations while awarding the contract to a firm whose credentials are questionable,” the report said.

The most interesting findings of these inquiries are that all the payments were made to Account No: 3255 maintained by M/s Ayesha Enterprises in the National Bank of Pakistan, Civil Secretariat, Peshawar.

M/s Ayesha Enterprises is owned by the PERRA director-general’s daughter while the account is being operated by Ms Amna Nasir, wife of Mr Nasir Azam. Moreover, Nasir Azam has been nominated as next of kin for the account.

On the basis of its inquiry, Erra sought recovery of the entire amount paid to M/s Ayesha Enterprises on account of purchase of forty-nine (49) tractors from Nasir Azam, PERRA director-general being the actual owner of the firm. It also recommended registration of a criminal case of fraud against the officer. In addition, it also seeks disciplinary proceedings against all other members of the committee under Removal from Service Ordinance, 2000.

The PERRA director-general when contacted denied he had done any corruption and insisted her daughter’s company was involved in the tractor business since 1999 and has so far sold 800 tractors. He said the company is registered and its records could be verified from the FBR.

He denied he was chairman of the procurement committee and said he never gave any approval for this purchase. He said he had only given his certification at the time of payment made to his daughter’s company. The TMO Manshera told the inquiry committee that tractors being of poor quality are not suitable for use in hilly areas.

Suprem Court of Pakistan directs action against Islamabad Police chief

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The Supreme Court on Friday directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take legal action against Islamabad Chief Commissioner Fazeel Asghar for facilitating Sheikh Muhammad Afzal, the owner of Haris Steel Mills, to flee from the country.

Sheikh Afzal was the main accused in the mega financial scam of Rs9 billion at the Bank of Punjab (BoP), Lahore. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, passed these order after the submission of Fazeel Asghar’s confessional statement during the hearing of the BoP Rs9 billion loan scam.

“Despite his (Fazeel) confession that he facilitated Shiekh Afzal to flee the country despite being on the Exit Control List (ECL) during his tenure as District Coordination Officer (DCO), why law was not allowed to take its course,” the chief justice observed and expressed displeasure for not taking action against Fazeel Asghar.

Expressing displeasure over the transfer of DG FIA Tariq Khosa, the chief justice observed that “it seems as if he has been penalised and transferred for efficiently assisting the court in Rs 9 billion scam”.

The FIA and the NAB authorities recently managed to arrest Sheikh Afzal from Malaysia and brought him back. He had confessed to getting Rs 9 billion from the BoP and had assured the court to pay back the said amount being claimed against him by the bank

The court directed Acting Attorney General, Shah Khawar, to submit a report regarding the transfer of Tariq Khosa. The court inquired from Azam Khan, Director Law, FIA, that whether it was a routine transfer.

He also inquired about the prescribed tenure for DG Azam Khan then stated that tenure for the DG was three years and Khosa had spent merely one and a half year. “The court is not handicapped, we have judicial authority to entrust this particular case to Khosa,” the chief justice said, adding that “no one is indispensable but Khosa had performed well in response to assignments given him by the court, including the BoP loan scam”. Instead of any appreciation, he was transferred, the chief justice maintained.

Meanwhile, Dr Danishwar Malik, NAB’s Prosecutor General, informed the court that Hamesh Khan, former BoP president and major accused of Rs9 billion scam, was arrested from the USA.

“We have started the process to bring him back and it may take some time as it would be decided by a magistrate in the US,” he submitted. Answering a court query, Dr Malik said that extradition of Hamesh Khan would take some time as a magistrate there would hear the case. He, however, said that all the relevant documents regarding his crime had been submitted by the NAB.

Aftab Ahmed, NAB investigation officer, submitted written details of the investigation process and said Sheikh Afzal’s two accounts worth Rs 1.6 billion in Dubai and Malaysia had also been frozen.

He said so far Rs 5.83 billion had been recovered and negotiations were underway with two brothers of Sheikh Afzal for recovery of another amount of Rs 1.73 billion. He said the recovery was made through ornaments, certificates and money while bank accounts of Sheikh Nisar amounting to Rs 230 million and Rs 300 million had also been frozen.

Waseem Sajjad, senior counsel for Seth Nisar (brother of Sheikh Afzal), said that his client had paid Rs 400 million and requested the court for protection from the NAB. Earlier, the court had directed the NAB to put Nisar on ECL and take his passport in custody. The court had denied the request of Waseem Sajjad due to the fear that he could again flee the country.

Khawaja Haris, counsel for the BoP, told the court that they had also received plea bargain requests to settle the issue from the bank officials involved in the scam. The court then said the defaulted amount should be recovered at any cost and adjourned the hearing for December 16.

Blackwater guards worked with CIA during raids

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Private security guards working for Blackwater USA participated in clandestine CIA raids against suspected insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, The New York Times reported on Friday. Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, disputed there was any contract for secret raids. The reported role would point to a much deeper connection between the company and the spy agency than has been previously disclosed and raises concerns over the legalities of involving contractors in the most sensitive operations conducted by the US government.

The “snatch and grab” raids took place regularly between 2004 and 2006, the Times reported, when the insurgency in Iraq was escalating and security throughout the country was deteriorating.

“Blackwater USA was never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Operations personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else. Any allegation to the contrary by any news organisation would be false,” Xe spokesman Mark Corallo said in an e-mailed statement. The company changed its name this year. A US official confirmed to The Associated Press that Blackwater provided security and moved around with CIA teams on missions in war zones, but he denied they performed CIA missions. CIA Director Leon Panetta ordered a review several months ago of the company’s contracts to be sure its guards only perform security-related work, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment publicly.

CIA spokesman George Little said, “This agency, like many others, uses contractors in roles that complement and enhance the skills of our own work force, just as American law permits.”

“Agency staff officers have the decision-making authority and bear responsibility for results,” Little said. The former Blackwater, based in Moyock, North Carolina, changed its corporate name after a series of use-of-force controversies, including a September 2007 shooting in Baghdad by five company security guards that left 17 civilians dead.

The Times also reported that former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on CIA flights that transported detainees. The XE spokesman also denied that part of the report. He said it was an old allegation that had repeatedly been withdrawn.

The report comes as the House Intelligence Committee is investigating the agency’s hiring of Blackwater to be part of a programme to kill or capture al-Qaeda leaders. The death squad programme had several lives over an eight-year period before it was cancelled Panetta in June. The CIA has said the effort yielded no successes. The CIA has been reducing its reliance on the use of contractors over the past few years.

Barack Obama’s war and peace speech silences criticism

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US President Barack Obama’s justification for war in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech won general praise on Friday as he left Oslo at the end of a quick visit to receive the prestigious award.

In a delicate but skillfully executed exercise, Obama referred to himself as “commander-in-chief of a nation in the midst of two wars” and said armed conflict was at times necessary.

Most commentators, however, praised the 44’th US president’s “realism.”

“You have to give Obama real credit: he spoke honestly, as a president with two wars on the go — which inescapably framed his thinking,” said Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo.

At home Obama’s speech was also lauded by commentators and media. Time magazine’s political columnist Joe Klein called it a “noble lecture” which he found “intellectually rigorous and morally lucid.” “The Nobel Committee has faced a lot of criticism for this year’s choice. One may wonder how much of that criticism remains after yesterday’s political show,” wrote a commentator in Aftenposten, Norway’s main newspaper.

“To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” Obama said during his speech at the glittering ceremony in Oslo City Hall.

There was some sniping at the speech, made just after the president decided to send 30,000 more troops to fight in Afghanistan. “Barack Obama, in his Nobel speech, used the word peace 29 times and the word war 35 times,” the daily Dagens Naeringsliv said in a comment entitled “The peace warrior.” His speech “could have been, in many aspects, delivered by (Obama’s predecessor) George W. Bush, apart from a few exceptions at the end,” a columnist at daily Dagsavisen wrote.

And a reporter from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK asked, “Is Obama a sugar-coated Bush?”

But Obama clearly singled out Bush when he attached a call to stand by moral standards to his right to war.

“We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honour those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard,” Obama said, underlining his order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison set up under Bush. The president’s message was also well received by Nobel officials.

Thursday’s “Nobel speech shows Obama is a head of state of great stature, exactly what the world needs,” Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told Norwegian news agency NTB.

When giving the prize to Obama Thursday, Jagland rejected critics’ claims that it was premature, saying “history can tell us a great deal about lost opportunities.” At the traditional Nobel dinner after the award ceremony, Obama joked that Jagland’s speech had him “almost convinced that I deserved it.”

The influential secretary of the five-member committee said Obama’s defence of armed conflict as he received the world’s most prestigious peace accolade was “completely acceptable.”

“He raised difficult questions by pointing out the difficult balance between war and peace, and why, in certain circumstances, war cannot be avoided,” Geir Lundestad said.

UK's Blair says Saddam ouster right

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes it was right to oust Iraqi leader SaddamHussein from power even though no weapons of mass destruction were ever found.

"I would still have thought it right to remove him," Blair told an interviewer for the British Broadcaster, when asked if he would have joined in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 if he'd known Saddam had no such weapons.

"Obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat," he added.

"I sympathise with the people who were against it for perfectly good reasons and are against it now, but for me, you know, in the end I had to take the decision," he said.

"There is no point in going into a situation of conflict and not understanding there is going to be a price paid." He said many of those in the armed forces, including those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan or Iraq, were "often proud of what their child had done and proud of the cause they fought in".

Govt. presses SC not to go beyond NRO pleas

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The government filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday, contending that any decision on the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) outside the scope of what the challengers had sought could destabilise the democratic system.

After remaining silent for four days, the government filed the petition through its newly appointed counsel Kamal Azfar to present its view on how the slightest mishandling could have repercussions for the entire system.

‘Pakistan today is poised at the crossroads. One road leads to a truly federal democratic welfare state with a balance of power among an independent judiciary, a duly elected government representing the will of the people and a determined executive which is fighting the war against terrorism and poverty,’ said the 12-page petition.

The second road leads to destabilisation of the rule of law, it said. ‘The people of Pakistan await your verdict,’ the petition contended, stressing that certain issues had been raised for the first time during the hearing which were not part of the petitions or the prayer and, therefore, contrary to the settled law enunciated by the court that arguments be confined to legal issues.

Acting Attorney General Shah Khawar repeated the government’s stance that it was not defending the NRO ‘from its inception till end’.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry made it clear that the court was also a supporter of the system. ‘We are telling everyone loud and clear that we are not going to derail the system.’

‘We had to hear many things after our July 31 judgment in which we supported the system,’ the chief justice said. ‘We would not be transgressing from the job assigned to us.’

Advocate Ibrahim Satti, representing Fazal Ahmed Jat, an officer of the Federal Investigation Agency facing a NAB reference, was the only counsel who supported the NRO because, he contended, it was not a bad law and its benefit should also be extended to his client.

‘If the ordinance is declared valid by this court and its benefit is extended even to a single person then my client is also entitled,’ he argued, saying it was a valid piece of legislation and did not impinge on any fundamental right.

He said every effort should be made to save the law instead of destroying it, an observation made by the court in numerous judgments.

The atmosphere became tense when the counsel, on a query by Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed, said the bench was hearing one-sided arguments against the NRO and his endeavour would be to change ‘what mind has been made up by the court’.

‘Where is the fault of ours if the government is not defending the NRO,’ Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday observed.

The chief justice clarified that the bench had not made up its mind and he still had no idea about the fate of the ordinance.

‘This is not the way to reply. I am a down-to-earth man and am not bothered about my judgeship,’ Justice Ijaz observed. He said he had also said so while leaving the office on Nov 2, 2007, (a day before all the judges were sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf).

‘God Almighty will save me and I am even ready now to quit the bench,’ he said.

‘I will withdraw my petition if the lordship is offended,’ Advocate Satti said.

Both apologised to each other and Justice Ijaz said he would be the last person to have malice against anyone.

Referring to the urgency in promulgating the ordinance whose draft was initiated and sent to the cabinet on Oct 5, 2007, and then sent to the law ministry and former president Pervez Musharraf the same day for promulgation, Satti said the entire ‘game plan’ had been settled outside the country.

He said the then government was apprehending some adverse decisions by the Supreme Court which could have upset the presidential elections which were being held on Oct 6.

Emergency was clamped on Nov 3, 2007, because the apex court was due to begin proceedings against the NRO around the time, he said.

‘It means that it was the chief justice who was responsible for sending us all home,’ Justice Ramday observed in a lighter vein. ‘I was under an impression that it was someone else,’ he said.

He said: ‘We should be proud of the fact that even those who benefited from the NRO refrained from supporting the law in the National Assembly. This is collective conscience.’

Senior counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada represented Dr Mubashir Hassan, Advocate Mohammad Ikram Chaudhry appeared on behalf of Roedad Khan while Barrister Farooq Hassan represented former Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed. The three lawyers and petitioner Tariq Assad concluded their arguments on Thursday.

The Supreme Court allowed Dr Mubashir against the usual norm to say that it did not need to invoke any doctrine of necessity because the people were with it and no president, prime minister, governor or general could dare defy its decision.

‘The state of Pakistan has been broken apart and it is the duty of all of us to put it back on rail,’ he said, recalling that under Article 7 of the Constitution it was the duty of the third organ of the state to come to the rescue when two of its limbs became dysfunctional.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also filed an appeal to restore his petition challenging the NRO. It had been dismissed for non-prosecution by a bench headed by Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

IA terminates contract with Blackwater: report

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The US Central Intelligence Agency has cancelled a contract with a security company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide that allowed the company to load bombs on CIA drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, The New York Times reported late Friday.

Citing intelligence officials, the newspaper said the contract gave Blackwater employees an operational role in one of the CIA's most significant covert programs, which has killed dozens of militants with Predator and Reaper drones.

The contract with the company, now called Xe Services, was canceled this year by CIA Director Leon Panetta, the report said.

CIA spokesman George Little said Panetta had ordered that the agency's employees take over the jobs from Xe employees at the remote drone bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the paper noted.

Panetta had also ordered a review of all contracts with the company, according to the report.

Sentencing delayed in US terror-funding case

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PHOENIX: A man facing prison time for lying to authorities in a terrorism-funding investigation could have been a big help to authorities because of his past involvement with a Muslim charity that aided Hamas, an FBI agent testified Friday.

Abdallah, a 55-year-old Arizona resident, was to have been sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court on his guilty plea to one count of making a false statement during 2007 interviews with FBI agents concerning his mid-1990s fundraising for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. But the sentencing was postponed until Feb. 18 because Judge Neil Wake ran out of time Friday after hearing hours of testimony and because he wants lawyers to submit briefs on several sentencing issues.

Joint Probe Team handed 5 US terror suspects

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The five US national terror suspects, arrested for Sargodha over alleged links with terrorists, have been shifted to Lahore after they were handed under the custody of Joint Investigation Team of Punjab Interior Ministry on Saturday morning, Geo news reported.

According to details five US nationals were arrested from Sargodha and recovered from their possession Jihadi literature on December 9 and recovered over alleged links with terrorists.

According to District Police Officer (DCO) Sargodha Dr. Usman, they have been handed under the custody of Joint Investigation Team of Punjab Interior Ministry for stepping up investigation process.

Officials hailing from eight security agencies comprised Joint Investigation Team, he said adding, “An Amenrica FBI team has also investigated arrested US terror suspects in Sargodha.”

Meanwhile, the Regional Police Officer Sargodha said decision whether or not to deport these US nationals from Pakistan has not been taken as yet.

DPO Sargodha said the revelation of secrets from arrested US men will be oh utmost importance, adding, they were in constant touch with various Jihadi outfits through electronic-mails.

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at his residence in Lahore Saturday morning. Prime Minister

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Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at his residence in Lahore Saturday morning.

Prime Minister said consensus over NFC award reflects that country’s political leadership is fully capable of resolving issues. The consensus among the provinces over NFC award is actualization of Quaid-e-Azam’s dreams.


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The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) administration has been accused of making some illegal appointments.

Sources told MT on Friday that OGDCL, management violated its recruitment and selection policy and hired junior level persons with insufficient experience, against some post, which were not advertised thus violating merit, seniority, and competence.

What comments will you offer against such mal-practices prevailing??

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


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On the first day of hearing of petitions challenging Nation Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) ... the amnesty deal that has shielded the President, Federal Ministers and several senior serving officials from corruption charges---the Supreme Court of Pakistan called for authentic list of its beneficiaries from National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while observing on Monday, 7 Dec 2009 " We want to know who the beneficiaries are, and the exact amount of benefit the received in terms of money"

The Chief Justice wants to know about only the money????? So what would be for other including murderers, malpractitioners and misappropriators????

What do you say...................?

TV means Television Channels OR Terrorist Victory Channles?

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The role of Pakistani private TV Channels has become more ridicules than their basic goals. If a bomb blasts any where in Pakistan, these TV Channels advertise terrorists victories over innocent people. These TV Channels, by their broadcasting such events, point out terrorists to goodluck or go ahead.

What do you think about???

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