Former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday did not appear before a team of the Federal Investigation Agency which is investigating the Haj corruption case while the investigation officer submitted his reply to the parliamentary committee over summoning the former premier.
Sources in FIA told Dawn that Mr Gilani was asked to record his statement on the appointment of Rao Shakeel Ahmed as director general of Haj in the ministry of religious affairs.
According to the sources, Rao Shakeel was appointed in 2009 as director general by Ismail Qureshi, then secretary in the ministry, on the directions of the former prime minister.
Rao Shakeel, who once served as commissioner of Multan, was a friend of former premier Gilani. Yousuf Raza Gilani’s book, Chah-i-Yousuf Say Sada, makes a mention of him.
According to the chargesheet prepared by the FIA trial court in the Haj corruption case, Rao Shakeel and another accused, Raja Aftabul Islam, were indicted under sections 109, 409, 420, 468, 471 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and 5 (2) 1947 of Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) for fraud, cheating, misuse of authority, and causing loss to the exchequer and the public at large.
Faisal Hussain, counsel of the Gilani family, told Dawn that issuance of summons by FIA to the former premier was illegal because Rao Shakeel was a senior official of the district management group and assigning him the position of director general of Haj was a prerogative of the chief executive.
“The Constitution empowered the prime minister to make such appointments, postings and transfers,” he contended.
“The FIA has already completed its investigation and the trial against Rao Shakeel, Aftabul Islam Raja and the former minister for religious affairs is in its final stages.”
He said the Supreme Court never issued any directives to the officer for recording the statement of Mr Gilani in connection with Haj corruption scam.
The FIA officials are trying to create differences between the Supreme Court and the government by linking the summons for Mr Gilani to the apex court, he alleged.An FIA official told Dawn that Hussain Asghar summoned Mr Gilani under section 160 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), adding that under the section, witnesses are asked to appear before investigators for recording their statements.
He said investigation into the Haj corruption case was stopped after Hussain Asghar’s transfer to Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as inspector general.
He resumed hearing after returning from GB to FIA, he added.
A standing committee of the National Assembly on rules of procedure and privileges, after the issuance of summons to Mr Gilani, asked the interior secretary and Hussain Asghar to appear before the committee on Monday. Asghar was also directed to submit his reply by Friday.