The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has requested that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) prohibit TV broadcasters from airing interviews or statements by its former leader Bashir Memon in the case of an international fugitive.
The FIA is looking into two former FIA heads, Bashir Memon and Saud Mirza, for allegedly assisting the fugitive, Umar Farooq Zahoor, who has been wanted by Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, and Pakistan for various financial and other offences since 2009-10.
“Bashir Memon is being investigated by the FIA for his close association with fugitive Zahoor and several charges of assisting him,” the FIA’s Lahore director said in a letter to Pemra chairman Mohammad Saleem Baig. He has been given formal notice under section 160 CrPc to appear in court and explain why he used his position as Director General FIA/Head of NCB Islamabad (Aug 2017-Nov 2019) to help fugitive Zahoor, who is wanted for’serious financial offences.’ Rather than present in the inquiry processes and respond to the investigation officers’ inquiries, he (Memon) used this notice to ‘grab the public limelight,’ gain sympathy, and make a sub judice case controversial.”
Mr Memon made such comments on numerous talk shows, according to the FIA, that they plainly impair the Supreme Court proceedings in case petition 585/2021. “The SC in this petition has taken cognizance of institutions’ failure to enforce various warrants (arrest of influential fugitive Umer Farooq Zahoor, who is currently hiding in the UAE and is wanted for various international financial frauds, money laundering, and other crimes) despite repeated orders from the apex court,” the FIA said.
The FIA asked the PEMRA chairman to issue a “unequivocal instruction” to all regulated electronic media news channels prohibiting Bashir Memon from giving TV interviews or making comments about the pending case.
Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, the FIA’s chief, recently formed a four-member joint investigative team to pursue Zahoor’s repatriation.
The team, which includes FIA Lahore Director Deputy Inspector General Muhammad Rizwan (convener), Interpol National Central Bureau (NCB) director, joint interior secretary, and Foreign Ministry Middle East director, has been tasked with pursuing extradition of Zahoor and co-suspect Muhammad Zubair, as well as the repatriation of two minors (with the UAE government).
Mr. Memon and Mr. Mirza have already testified in front of the investigation team for allegedly assisting Zahoor. Both had asked the agency for a copy of the case/allegations.
Mr Bashir is on pre-arrest bail in the case, which he claims is politically motivated since he refused to file charges against opposition figures despite government pressure.
Two officials from the Foreign Ministry — Middle East Director Saeed Sarwar and Dubai Deputy Consul General Giyan Chand — also testified before the FIA team, answering questions about why they did not help the agency extradite Zahoor to Pakistan.