Imagine the state of Human Rights in Pakistan!
ISI initiates inquiry against Law Minister Wasi Zafar
By Sadia Qureshi
ISLAMABAD: Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) has discreetly launched an investigation into reports of misuse of million of rupees meant for victims of human rights abuses by Law Minister Wasi Zafar. An ISI officer reportedly visited the ministry offices on Friday to collect information and documentary evidence.
The ISI investigation has been ordered from the ‘top’ after it was reported that the minister had mistreated a woman bureaucrat who refused to approve funding from the human rights fund for 560 applicants who belonged to Zafar’s constituency of Jaranwala tehsil, Faisalabad.
Sources said the ISI might not have interfered in the affairs had damaging findings of the auditor general of Pakistan not been made public. The AGP has confirmed reports of the misuse of HR funds, along with the fresh disclosure that last year a total of 365 people successfully applied to get funding from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, out of which 305 belonged to Jaranwala tehsil.
The funds are meant for victims of rape, torture, extra judicial killings, police torture, and other human rights abuses, and they are supposed to have FIRs and recommendations from the authorities concerned. But the 865 constituents from Jaranwala for whom funding was approved over the last two years only supplied their identity cards.
Top level sources said the ISI officer who visited the ministry on Friday met with the officials concerned in the Human Rights Fund Section. The sources said the ISI official had asked why the sudden row had developed between Zafar and the woman bureaucrat, senior joint secretary Saira Karim.
He was reportedly informed that Karim had refused to approve the release of millions of rupees from the fund after the auditor general reported his objections. However, Karim did approve the funds for 305 people from Jaranwala last year.
Karim had this time asked the personal secretary to Zafar to give her something in writing indicating that the law minister had approved the release of funds, so it was not her who would be hauled over the coals if the Public Accounts Committee got wind of the scandal.
Sources said the ISI man was told that the personal secretary had issued such an approval letter and this angered the minister, who is reported to have torn up files and abused Karim. The minister allegedly accused Karim of trying to “collect documentary evidence” against him.
Karim then got herself transferred from the Law Ministry to the Establishment Division, but Zafar brought her back and ordered an inquiry against her under the Removal from Services Ordinance. He was then reportedly told that only the president had the power to sack someone in BPS 21. Zafar later ordered another inquiry, only this time to be told that only the prime minister was authorised to order such an inquiry against a senior official.
Zafar did not give up and his ministry is still busy in inquiring into allegations that Karim funded bogus NGOs, a charge she denies. A junior officer has been appointed to inquire into the allegations levelled by the minister against Karim.