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Monday, November 27, 2023

Jahangir Khan Tareen is not above the law, Senator Faisal Vawda

Federal Minister for Water Resources and senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Senator Faisal Vawda said Jahangir Khan Tareen is not being victimized by the party but since no one is above the law it is up to the courts to decide if he is innocent in the sugar scam or not.

Federal Minister for Water Resources and senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Senator Faisal Vawda said Thursday Jahangir Khan Tareen is not being victimized by the party but since no one is above the law it is up to the courts to decide if he is innocent in the sugar scam or not.

In a tweet laid out earlier today from Vawda’s official Twitter handle, the Senator said 17 sugar mills were found involved in the sugar scam as per the inquiry report and that poor Pakistanis paid the price of this corruption, suggesting that whoever may be behind the plunder will have it from the courts.

“PM IK [Prime Minister Imran Khan] and his govt will not tolerate whosoever that may be,” the senator’s tweet read. He noted that it was on the courts to decide the culpability or innocence of those implicated in the inquiry report.

Separately on the sugar scam, a team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) raided today the Punjab food department in a matter related to the provision of subsidies of billions of rupees to the sugar mills in sugar import.

Sources privy to the development said, a joint investigation team of NAB Islamabad team, investigating the matter of subsidies to mills for the import of sugar, raided Punjab food department and seized relevant record.

The food department failed to provide the relevant record to the graft-buster body for the last three years, despite asking it several times.

My loyalty is being tested, JKT

Jahangir Tareen said on Wednesday that his “loyalty is being tested”.  Tareen was speaking to the media outside a banking court in Lahore. A banking court extended the interim bail granted to Tareen, his son Ali Tareen and two other accused in a money laundering case. The court extended their interim pre-arrest bail until April 10 due to the absence of judge Ameer Muhammad Khan.

“Not one or two but three FIRs have been registered against me.” “My question is the same from day one that there are over 80 sugar mills in Pakistan, why am I being singled out?” “I am compelled to ask why I am being subjected to this vindictive action?” the estranged PTI leader asked. “My loyalty [to the party] is being tested.” “I have been facing the sugar commission for the past one year and have kept mum all along,” he maintained.

He demanded that those behind the vengeful action against him be exposed. “[Prime Minister] Imran Khan can expose these elements,” he opined.

Tareen also hit out at, what he called, his “media trial” asking if the cases against him are too weak to stand in a court of law that scorn is being poured on him in the media. He was of the view that the PTI will also suffer if he part ways with it. However, he cleared, that he is and will remain a part of the party.

Read more: Pakistan’s Sugar Mafia: Is there a long term solution?

“I don’t intend to meet [PPP co-chairman Asif Ali] Zardari,” he said referring to rumours suggesting that he is joining the PPP. “There is no truth in such talk,” he stated in clear terms.

FIA goes after JKT

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has filed two FIRs against Jahangir Tareen and two other family members in the sugar scandal and money laundering charges. FIA Lahore registered cases against CEO of JWD Sugar Mills, Jahangir Tareen, his son Ali Tareen and son-in-law in the sugar scam.

“Over three billion rupees money laundering made by showing investment in a closed factory,” according to the FIR.

The investigation agency has also charged Tareen and others for illegal hoarding of sugar, misappropriation and cheating in the FIR. CEO of JWD Sugar Mills in an act of forgery transferred 3.14 billion rupees to a closed company, the FIR read.

The FIA in another FIR charged that Amir Waris, a confidante of Tareen, made illegal transactions from the company accounts and drawn over two billion rupees. Waris illegally deposited the amount in personal accounts of Jahangir Tareen and his family members.

“During the inquiry a fake account was also found, which was used for around six billion rupees illegal transactions,” FIR read. “The fake account was used for transactions in accounts of various companies of Jahangir Tareen.”

Inquiry Commission report

It is important to note that in 2020, following the shortage of wheat flour in the country and the subsequent price hike, sugar had also gone missing from the market. Taking notice of the situation, the prime minister had formed a committee to find out those responsible for the crises.

The prime minister had constituted two high-powered committees headed by the Director-General (DG) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) along with a senior officer of the Intelligence Bureau and the DG of the Anti-Corruption Establishment of Punjab to investigate the causes behind the crises and price hike of those commodities. The prime minister had further directed the committee on sugar to conduct forensic analysis of sugar mills to further expand the findings.

On the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the reports of the inquiry committees tasked to probe sugar and wheat crises in the country were made public on the 4th of April, 2020. According to the inquiry committee, there are six groups which control about 51% of the production of sugar in Pakistan, JKT’s Group JDW, controls 19.97% production, RYK Group (Khusro Bakhtiar) group control 12.24%, Al-Moiz Group controls 6.8%, Tandlianwala Group 4.9%, Omni Group 1.7% and the Sharif family owns 4.5% of the production.

There were some speculations suggesting that the report might never be made public. Interestingly, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, then Federal Minister for Railways, had claimed in a private talk show that the report was unlikely to be published. “There shall be no report, I think,” he said. “Any report can disrupt the political process in the country, therefore, I believe that there may be some tactics to delay the report,” he added.

JKT was a big challenge?

Tareen, a senior leader of PTI, has already questioned the criteria behind the audit of his nine sugar mills and the selection process by the committee formed to probe the matter. He also rejected the sugar crisis report. The PTI leader said that he does not object to the audit of his sugar mills under the committee.

“Will the commission discover the reality behind all the sugar mills in Pakistan after conducting an audit of the nine mills?” said the businessman. There are also some speculations that the premier might have an idea that Pakistan’s flawed justice system cannot punish the mafia but he still ordered to make the report public.

In Pakistan, politically powerful persons have never been fairly trialed and convicted before a court of law. The problem lies, argue some experts, in Pakistan’s effective legal system which lacks competence and a strong will to punish powerful persons.

Read More: Can PPP convince Akhtar Mengal to go against government?

In the present case, some experts fear that the sugar mafia shall get away with these allegations on technical grounds. There has already been a decision by the SHC declaring the constitution of the commission illegal.