Friday, September 4, 2009

The return of the Daylight Jackals : Part - 2

It would hit at the military establishment, the intelligence agencies and cut the politicians who were now claiming to be larger than life to their size. Resurrecting the Mehrangate scandal would be the ideal tactic. The main character of the 1989 scandal, Brigadier Imtiaz Ahmed would be the best person to stir this hornet’s nest.In his mind Brig Imtiaz, who was close to Nawaz Sharif in the past, was feeling left out after the PML-N staged a comeback in the 2008 elections and formed its government in the Punjab. When everybody else from the past had been accommodated, why not him? That was enough for him to settle some scores. It was time to strike back. He agreed to join the planning and launching of the operation.On Aug 17, 2009, shortly after 12 noon, Brigadier Imtiaz walked into the headquarters of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) in Islamabad to meet its Chairman Ali Arshad Hakeem. A reporter of The News saw him being escorted by the PR personnel of the Ministry of Interior. Enquiries revealed that the Brigadier had been visiting the Nadra for several days. Some of the known media cronies of the presidency in Islamabad had also been seen visiting the Nadra office frequently during these days while at night these guys would meet and plot their strategy in an F-7 house, near Restaurant Civil Junction. A Radio Pakistan executive had also allowed them to use one of the Radio Pakistan annexe in sector H-8 to late night meetings and parties.The background of the Nadra chairman revealed more when The News investigation moved forward. His official introduction at the Nadra web site says: “Ali Arshad Hakeem has a dynamic professional background in both public and private sector organisations of Pakistan as well as abroad, and had joined the Nadra as chairman on August 12, 2008. His versatile experience had brought many value additions and a completely service oriented vision to the Nadra. He not only served in Pakistan’s Central Board of Revenue for ten years at senior management positions but had also been closely involved with business process outsourcing operations, computerisation of land records and automation of customs process in Pakistan. His special interests include data mining for national security & poverty alleviation. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, Business Administration and Law and believes in an optimistic change through innovation in various business and economic ventures.”But Ali Arshad Hakeem is the son of Major-General (retd) Arshad Hakeem who was very close to Brig Imtiaz during the late 80s, serving in Karachi. Ali Arshad Hakeem also has deep family terms with Faryal Talpur, the sister of President Zardari and thus is very close to Mr Zardari who appointed him as the Nadra chairman, a highly sensitive position in view of the database it controls. Days after his meetings at the Nadra, an important journalist of the official news agency APP started calling TV anchors and media persons on behalf of Brig Imtiaz and each time he handed over the phone to the brigadier who wanted himself on the screens. Many anchors have gone on record to say the brigadier was too eager and ready to spills the beans. One anchor wrote that the brigadier said he wanted to explode a “political nuclear bomb”. That he was going to spill the beans against his own self was irrelevant and unimportant but this time he was trying to compensate the PPP for ‘Midnight Jackals’ against Benazir Bhutto.The other members of the team would call up every friend and ìinterestedî media person to highlight the revelations of Brig Imtiaz and for days and weeks nothing else should be discussed on the media. They were quite successful in achieving that goal, while the presidency would keep on denying that any cell existed in that house on the hill. Factually the cell was not in the presidency. The smell of the rat about his Nadra connections became pungent when The News talked to him on the subject and tried to get his version about why he was frequently going to the Nadra under escort of the Interior Ministry officials, a fact which the Interior Ministry officially denied. He was also asked as to what were his relations with the Nadra chairman.The wily brigadier first denied any relation with Nadra Chairman Ali Arshad Hakeem. That was his first mistake. He said that he had visited Nadra headquarters in mid August to get a new identity card as his old CNIC had expired. He said he chose to visit Nadra headquarters as other Nadra offices meant for this took a long time while Nadra headquarter could issue the card in 24 hours. He said that two days he visited Nadra headquarters for his CNIC and then later on he came to know that CNIC of his wife had also expired so he had to visit Nadra for two more days.His second mistake was that he claimed that he had no relationship with Ali Arshad Hakeem and took appointment to meet him through some other person. Another slip of the tongue was when he praised Ali Arshad Hakeem and said he was an important part of the present government and playing an excellent role in addressing different issues. Sticking to his stand that he had no relations with Ali Arshad Hakeem, Brig Imtiaz said during his meetings no matter of the past was discussed at any stage. However, Ali Arshad Hakeem, whose father Major General (retd) Hakeem Arshad Qureshi remained DMLA Karachi in eighties, when approached by The News admitted that Brigadier Imtiaz was ìa close friend of his deceased father and we have close family relationsî. He called him an Uncle.He confirmed his meetings with Brigadier Imtiaz in mid August in his office in Nadra headquarters but categorically denied discussing any political thing with his uncle Imtiaz. But Hakeem confirmed his close relations with President Asif Ali Zardari. Hakeem confirmed that as his father was DMLA Karachi and Munawar Talpur, husband of President Zardariís sister Faryal Talpur, was member of the Majlis Shura, both the families enjoyed close ties. Talking to The News he said: “Yes, I have close relations with President Asif Ali Zardari who has shown his confidence in me by appointing me as the chairman Nadra.” Hakeem also admitted that he has frequent meetings with President Asif Zardari.But on the record Hakeem only said: “All these meetings are of professional nature and have nothing to do with politics.”After these statements of Ali Arshad Hakeem, when Brig Imtiaz was again contacted on Wednesday he conceded having very close ties with the family of Ali Arshad Hakeem. When he was asked that a reporter had seen him escorted by Interior Ministry officials, Brig Imtiaz denied having any links with the interior ministry and started criticising Interior Minister Rehman Malik. In a direct way he also threatened that he would react “very badly” if this was published. The nervousness and almost panic in the body language and talk of Brigadier Imtiaz revealed more than he did. He did not need a third person to get an appointment with the Nadra chairman, who called him an uncle. He did not need to make repeated visits to collect or get is or his wife’s ID cards. Source : The News International

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