Haj corruption case: MNA backtracks on allegations against Qadir Gilani
ISLAMABAD, July 15: Pirzada Syed Imran Ahmed Shah, a PML-N member of the National Assembly from Sahiwal, has backtracked on allegations he had levelled against Abdul Qadir Gilani, son of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani, in the Haj corruption case.
In a statement recorded with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Dec 22, 2010, Mr Shah had accused Mr Qadir Gilani of receiving a luxury bullet-proof Land Cruiser from the former director general Haj, Rao Shakeel Ahmed, the principal accused in the scam. However, after about one-and-a-half years the MNA changed the stance and accused the FIA of cooking the story in order to trap him.
The MNA had also said that Zain Iftikhar Sukhera, a close friend of Mr Qadir Gilani, went to Saudi Arabia on July 18, 2010, and met Rao Shakeel and received the vehicle.
The vehicle was “reportedly smuggled through Karachi port and was secretly offloaded from a truck at Sahiwal”. In return, Mr Sukhera was awarded contracts of toll plazas and road construction by the National Highways Authority, Mr Shah had said in his statement
In a supplementary statement recorded on Dec 29, 2010, Mr Shah claimed that Rao Shakeel, a retired army officer, was a class fellow of the former prime minister.
Mr Qadir Gilani, in his statement, denied the allegations and contended that he had imported the vehicle in accordance with rules.
The allegations, he said, had been levelled because of political rivalry and to tarnish his image.
In his statement, Mr Sukhera also denied the allegations, saying these had been levelled because of political enmity. He, however, admitted that he had met Rao Shakeel in Saudi Arabia.
When the Supreme Court found that the MNA or the investigation agency did not have sufficient evidence against Mr Qadir Gilani, it directed the FIA to proceed against Mr Shah. The FIA filed a complaint against Mr Shah accordingly and the proceedings against him, which started on March 3 last year, are pending in the court of senior civil judge, Islamabad.
The FIA’s complaint says that Mr Shah had levelled false allegations against Mr Qadir Gilani and Mr Sukhera and recorded a false statement before the Supreme Court and investigation officers. The FIA requested the judge to proceed against Mr Shah in accordance with law.
The hearing of the case was fixed for several times, but the affected party and witnesses did not appear before the court.
Finally, Mr Shah requested the court for his acquittal. The court took up his application on June 1, but witnesses did not appear before it.
Sources in the FIA claimed that witnesses — Mr Qadir Gilani and Mr Sukhera — were not pursuing the case because they had reportedly reached a settlement with the PML-N legislator and as a result of that Mr Shah had changed his earlier stance.
They said the government had also removed investigation officers of the Haj scam in order to facilitate the settlement.
Chaudhry Abdul Aziz, counsel for Mr Shah, told Dawn that his client had never put his signatures on any statement accusing Mr Qadir Gilani of receiving the Land Cruiser from Rao Shakeel. He said on the basis of a report of the NA standing committee Mr Shah had only pointed out that a bullet-proof vehicle had been offloaded and suggested the FIA should investigate the matter.
Chaudhry Aziz said his client did not need any settlement for his acquittal, adding the prosecution had no documentary proof against the MNA and the allegations against him were baseless.