ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday once again tried to pacify the aggrieved lawmakers whose names have surfaced in a ‘mysterious’ list allegedly linked to a civilian intelligence agency but dismissed by the government as fake.
At least eight legislators named in the list are members of PM Abbasi’s cabinet.
The reported development follows a crucial meeting of the federal cabinet that continued till night. Apparently, the huddle took place to review the government’s policies on the weekly basis but knowledgeable sources said the discussion on the alleged list of 37 Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmakers prepared by Intelligence Bureau figured high during the meeting.
The IB also describes the list that accuses the lawmakers of having connections with sectarian outfits as bogus.
Sources said out of eight cabinet members named in the list – including six federal and two state ministers – all but one showed up at the huddle to press the premier to do something ‘concrete’ to clear the air of uncertainty surrounding the mysterious list.
Federal Minister for Interprovincial Coordination Riaz Pirzada did not attend the cabinet meeting reportedly in protest of being named in the list.
Law Minister Zahid Hamid, Education Minister Balighur Rehman, Communications Minister Hafiz Kareem, Power Minister Awais Leghari, National Food Security Minister Sikander Hayat Bosan, State Minister for National Food Security Ayaz Ali Shah Sheerazi and State Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Abdul Rehman Kanju showed up at the meeting, the insiders said.
Sources said the seven legislators were concerned that the issue of alleged IB list was ‘unnecessarily’ being played up by the media and believed that some government quarters were behind the campaign in a bid to tighten noose around those legislators who were said to be maintaining close ties with the security establishment.
However, the prime minister attempted to once again address the concerns of the lawmakers, saying no action would be taken against the legislators whose names were on this list and a case was registered against the journalist who first reported on the subject.
Reportedly, the cabinet members advised the premier to review the decision since implicating a journalist on reporting about a document — whether real or fake — was bound to attract media’s annoyance.
“There would be more trouble if the government kept committing blunders after blunders,” a government official quoted the cabinet members as having conveyed to PM Abbasi.
He said the lawmakers named in the IB list wanted that the matter should be hushed up but the government’s attempts to have the issue probed was adding to their concerns, fearing that the issue was getting ‘unwanted’ attention.
The Express Tribune tried to contact Riaz Pirzada for comments on the matter but he did not respond.
PM’s Adviser Ameer Muqam, when approached, said a general discussion took place during the cabinet conclave. He while avoiding comments on the IB list issue, said: “Apart from the scheduled agenda, general discussion on several issues takes place,” adding, “This doesn’t mean that a meeting was summoned to discuss a specific issue.”
A statement from the PM Office detailed the eleven agenda items approved by the cabinet but skipped to mention discussion on the IB list.
The approved agenda items also included the appointment of member (administration) Capital Development Authority (CDA) and approval to change the nomenclature of the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to the Ministry of Maritime.
On Friday, a crucial meeting between PM Abbasi and IB Director General Aftab Sultan took place at the PM House to discuss the ‘fake’ list issue. Later, the prime minister called the 37 lawmakers in the meeting where he tried to address their concerns in the presence of the civilian spymaster.
Official sources said despite the government and the IB having categorically dismissed the list as fake, concerns of the lawmakers named in the list imply that the matter is “more serious than meets the eye”.
“The concerns shown by those named in the list—and the way they have reacted to it means that something is really serious or ‘fishy’ probably. Otherwise, you don’t have to react like that on a fake document.
The prime minister assured them that the government would track the elements behind the episode but the lawmakers don’t want any probe and want the matter be hushed up, which is strange,” an official said.
Source: Tribune News | IB’s ‘mysterious’ list issue refuses to die down