Eight members of the Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) earlier this week received show-cause notices for leaking sensitive information to the media, reported The News. A probing committee has presented a report and maintained that eight members were involved in leaking to the media data belonging to a government official.
The committee has reportedly recommended strict action against the eight accused in accordance with the SECP human resource manual. The commission, according to the report, issued show-cause notices to eight officials.
These included Additional Director (Market Surveillance Department) Arsalan Zafar Hujazi, on the recommendation of the fact-finding committee. However, the remaining officials are from the IT wing and companies’ registration office SECP.
#SECP HR department issued show-cause notices to eight employees, including additional director of market surveillance department Arslan Zafar. https://t.co/FoQUptiOZ5— Asad Ali Toor (@AsadAToor) September 23, 2020
While confiscating Hujazi’s laptop, the committee sent him on forced leave whereas it was further reported that the former SECP chairman’s son had also deleted the data from his laptop and obtained a letter from SECP’s HR department to apply for a UK visa.
These employees who have been handed over the notices can submit a written reply within seven days, and hearings will be held for each person in front of the Commission.
The SECP leak
On September 17, local media reported that Arslan Zafar was involved in sharing with the media some data related to the companies of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa and his family.
A report aired by news channel ARY News claimed that Zafar leaked the data related to the companies to the media. After an article about the Bajwa family and their business in the US went viral, SECP Chairman Amir Khan had ordered an initial inquiry into the matter. Arslan Zafar was founded to have links with some media channels, retired army officers of the RAW, and some other sources, claimed ARY News.
Is the information about top functionaries of #Pakistan accessible to #Indians ?Who are the moles within? Nexus of a political party, #RAW /#IndianMilitary & few journalists. Shocking timeline of circumstantial evidence. What are your views? #AsimBajwa #AsimSaleemBajwa pic.twitter.com/k4OYXypJWw— Arshad Sharif (@arsched) September 17, 2020
Notably, Arslan Zafar is the son of Zafar Hijazi. Hijazi was appointed to a key position at the SECP by Ishaq Dar, PML-N’s leader, and former finance minister. Hijazi was accused of record tempering a few years ago when a case against the Chaudhary Sugar Mills was being probed.
On 21st July, Zafar reportedly obtained the data on the Bajwa family businesses and shared them with the media. Interestingly, after four days —on July 25— a retired major of the Indian Army, named Gaurav Arya, shared the details of the Bajwa family business on YouTube. Arshad Sharif, a prominent Pakistani journalist, questioned if Zafar had direct links with the Indian agencies or gave information to them through Ishaq Dar
What really happened?
The news report on the alleged business dealings of Asim Saleem Bajwa was decidedly rebuffed last month after it emerged that the journalist responsible for writing the report had actually been relying on the testimony of a notorious social media influencer with deep ties to the Indian Army.
According to several videos shared on social networking platform Twitter by users around the world, Ahmed Noorani, the journalist who wrote the now-debunked expose without revealing his sources, had relied on a video made by a retired major of the Indian Army.
The report, published on a propaganda website named FactFocus, intended to develop a correlation between Bajwa’s rise in his professional career and the rise of his family’s business. However, investigative reporters across the country stressed that the allegations were baseless since Noraani did not publish documents to back his claims.
After the report was published, an outcry ensued on social media, with trolls and bot accounts backed by the Indian establishment working overtime to expand the reach of the story and trying to make up for the gaps in the arguments of Noorani by simply trying to get the story out to as many people as possible.
What will happen?
GVS spoke to a Lahore-based legal expert to understand the possible outcome of the case. The commission will decide the punishments in accordance with the SECP HR manual where the minor penalties and the major penalties have been clearly defined, the lawyer said.
Moreover, the major penalty included dismissal and the minor is suspension from service, with a possibility that the case could be referred to FIA. However, the case is of serious nature and the FIA is likely to dig deep into it in an attempt to understand as to who got the information from these officials to run propaganda from India.