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October 9, 2017

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Ishaq Dar case: Inside story of sacking of ‘key witness’

Ishaq Dar case: Inside story of sacking of ‘key witness’

ISLAMABAD: The electronic, print and social media, especially WhatsApp, is abuzz with messages, mostly from security analysts, that a “key witness” in a case against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has been sacked by the Nadra but official records tell a different story.

Not only official record, but also a petition filed by the sacked employee, Syed Qaboos Aziz, with the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after his sacking, narrates a different reason behind termination of his services.

Without realising what kind of record of Dar’s financial transactions could have been available with Nadra, the analysts not only termed Qaboos Aziz ‘a key witness’ in the case against the finance minister, but also declared that government’s vindictive designs and attempts to influence trial of references against Sharifs have been made clear. A campaign has already been launched to support the sacked officer on the grounds that he was punished for sharing important details of Ishaq Dar family with NAB.

Official record shows that on August 15, NAB Lahore wrote to chairman Nadra via letter No. 1(61)HQ/910/31/CIT/NAB-LHR/421 for provision of complete database record of ‘a family member’ of Ishaq Dar by providing an old national identity card number. 

The NAB letter also demanded that the Nadra should appoint an officer, not less than deputy director, to deliver this record by-hand in NAB Lahore office by August 21.  This was a routine issue and the Nadra had to provide such record to investigation and other law enforcement agencies on demand under relevant laws.

Upon receiving NAB’s letter, the chairman ordered the database section to provide him the required details in a sealed envelope.  Official documents show that the chairman Nadra wrote to NAB on August 17 informing that one ‘Syed Qaboos Aziz’ had been designated to attend NAB Lahore office on the given date and time along with the required record. Documents shows that on August 18, the chairman Nadra office again wrote to NAB Lahore that photograph, details of family tree and details of attester had been enclosed as desired. On August 21, the required record was handed over to the NAB officials.

Given the prevalent practices and provisions of law, Nadra had no option to deny the provision of this simple record and the officer carrying the record had nothing to do with the information contained in the envelope. 

Can he open the sealed envelope or can he change the contents of database information provided by the Nadra? Will the chairman Nadra who himself sent the required record sack the officer designated by him for the delivery of record? The answer is ‘No’.

At the first step, the Nadra officer was simply acting as post office to deliver official record to the NAB. At the second step, he would have to appear before the court during trial and record his statement on oath as a witness that information being put by NAB prosecution before the trail court regarding details of family tree of Ishaq Dar was correct as per Nadra record and that he had delivered the same to NAB investigators. 

This is simple step of trial process under the law. What makes Qaboos ‘a key witness’ in case against Ishaq Dar can only be explained by the said analysts.

The News repeatedly contacted Syed Qaboos Aziz for two days and after going through the questions, he opted not to reply.

Qaboos was sacked on August 23 after a long process and an inquiry conducted by a committee comprising three DGs of Nadra. The inquiry pertained to allegations of harassment against the then Deputy Chairman Nadra Syed Muzaffar Ali who has also been sacked.

It is important to mention here that Qaboos Aziz was not charged with any allegation of harassment. He was accused of persuading the victim to compromise with the then deputy chairman. This charge is yet to be established in a court of law. 

In her statement before the Fact Finding Board, the victim has stated that Mr Qaboos visited her home more than once to convince her of making a compromise with deputy chairman Nadra. This entire episode, already reported in detail by national media, led to sacking of Syed Qaboos Aziz and deputy chairman Nadra.

Interestingly, when Qaboos Aziz filed a petition with the IHC, he never mentioned any instance of delivering the Nadra record of Ishaq Dar family to NAB Lahore office as a reason but he clearly mentioned issue of deputy chairman as the background of action against him. 

Qaboos pleaded before the IHC that he was being threatened since long to convince deputy chairman to resign or otherwise get ready for an action against him. Qaboos has also pleaded in his petition that it was not only him, but also there were some other offices of authority who were asked to convince the deputy chairman to resign or face termination. This is what Qaboos himself pleaded before the IHC in his petition against his sacking. The IHC however refused to grant him a stay order.

After the start of trial against Ishaq Dar in the accountability court, as per usual routine, the NAB again wrote to the Nadra informing that registration authority’ officer Syed Qaboos Aziz should be ready to appear before the accountability court in October on a short notice to record his statement. 

In response to this letter, the NADRA informed the NAB on October 4 that Syed Qaboos Aziz had been separated from service and one Ghazali Zahid, General Manager Data warehouse of Nadra, had been nominated to assist the NAB regarding this issue. However, Nadra also provided the NAB with the permanent address and contact details of Qaboos Aziz so that the NAB could approach him, if required.

It is pertinent to mention that in this whole campaign implying that ‘a key witness’ in case against Ishaq Dar has been terminated, there is no on-the-record statement of Qaboos Aziz declaring the reason for his sacking was his act of delivering an envelope to the NAB. His only on-the-record statement is what he stated in his petition filed with the IHC. Apparently, some other characters, having minute-to-minute knowledge of all developments regarding trial process, are playing this game by misusing name of Syed Qaboos Aziz. 

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