Govt has given FIA go-ahead to arrest ex-finance minister Shaukat Tarin: Sanaullah


ISLAMABAD, FEB 12: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Sunday that the government had given the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) permission to arrest ex-finance minister PTI Senator Shaukat Tarin in a case pertaining to his alleged role in derailing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal. Two audio leaks had surfaced in August last year in which a man, purportedly ex-minister Tarin, could be heard guiding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab finance ministers, belonging to the PTI, to tell the coalition government in the Centre and the IMF that they would not be able to commit to a provincial budget surplus in light of the monsoon floods that wrought havoc across Pakistan.

In a notice issued to Tarin in September last year, the FIA said an inquiry had been initiated against his alleged role on the basis of the audio leak.

Informed sources told Dawn that the FIA, which completed a preliminary inquiry into Tarin’s audio leaks, saw his leaked conversations as an “attempt to disrupt” the IMF loan programme and funds, thereby causing harm to the national interest.

The FIA sought approval from the interior ministry to initiate legal proceedings against Tarin, leading to his arrest, the sources had added.

Commenting on the matter during a press conference in Karachi on Sunday, Sanaullah lashed out at PTI Chairman Imran Khan and alleged that since his ouster, the ex-premier had been “campaigning and making moves” to ensure that the country was subject to political instability so that it would ultimately default.

“For this purpose, he (Imran) also led astray a person like Shaukat Tarin who under his influence did something because of which Pakistan could’ve been hurt.

“The inquiry against him (Tarin) is complete, the FIA had asked permission to arrest him which the government has given and he should be punished for it so no one ever dares to do something like this again.”

He said that despite all this, the PTI chief was “unsuccessful” and an agreement between the IMF and the government was seemingly on the horizon.

“Today again he indulged in a very disgusting talk which is highly condemnable and I want to clarify that Pakistan will achieved political and economic stability,” he said, referring to Imran’s televised address.

Continuing his criticism of the PTI chief, Sanaullah termed Imran to be a “political terrorist” and said the country would remain “safe from terrorists, including political terrorists like him”.

He said there was “no possibility” of future negotiations with militants since past talks had not proved successful or yielded any results. “There is no doubt that a new wave of terrorism has arrived,” Sanaullah said, adding that law enforcement agencies and security institutions on alert.

During his media talk, the interior minister also spoke about elections in the country, saying that it was the Election Commission of Pakistan’s prerogative to conduct them.

“We are fully ready to contest elections whether they are in April or October but we are of the opinion that they are not the solution to the economic and militancy challenges the country faces at this time.”

The interior minister said it would be “hard to accept” the results of an election held without a caretaker set-up.

IMF audio leaks

In the alleged phone calls, Tarin was apparently asking Mohsin Leghari and Taimur Jhagra to do a volte-face citing provincial surplus.

“We only wanted the provincial finance minister to write to the federal government so “pressure falls on these b******* … they’re jailing us, filing terrorism charges against us and they’re going away completely scot-free. We can’t allow this to happen,” the voice purportedly of Tarin’s is heard telling Leghari.

In the same audio tape, when Leghari asks Tarin if the activity would hurt the state, the latter responds: “Well … frankly speaking, isn’t the state suffering the way they are treating your chairman and everybody else? This will definitely happen that the IMF will ask ‘where will you arrange the money from’ and they (the government) will bring another mini-budget.”

Tarin says it could not be allowed “they mistreat us and we stand on one side and they blackmail us in the name of the state and ask for help and we keep helping them”.

Later in the leaked conversation, Tarin tells Leghari that the mechanism of the information’s release to the public would be decided later. “We will do something so it doesn’t seem we are hurting the state but we should at least present the facts that you won’t be able to give [budget surplus] so our commitment is zero.”

In the other audio, Tarin can be heard asking Jhagra whether he had drawn up a similar letter. “[The IMF commitment] is a blackmailing tactic and no one will release money anyway. I won’t release them, I don’t know about Leghari,” says the man said to be Jhagra.

The former federal minister says the letter, once drafted, would also be sent to the IMF representative so “these b******* know that the money they were forcing us into giving will be kept by us”. Tarin, however, said the audio was ‘tampered’. It was a crime to tap someone’s conversation, which was leaked after being tampered with, he added.