ISLAMABAD: The Director General of the Intelligence Bureau Aftab Sultan has assured the parliamentarians that the list viral on social media containing their names over alleged links with banned outfits is fake.
Having names of 37 lawmakers who were alleged to have links with banned outfits, the list first came to light when a private television channel aired a report claiming that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had directed the IB to keep a close watch on these legislators, who mostly belong to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N. The meeting between the parliamentarians and IB chief Aftab Sultan was arranged by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The lawmakers named in the list complained to PM Abbasi that their opponents could use the document to institute cases against them and, thus, they would not be eligible to hold a public office.
They demanded the government inform relevant ministries foreign affairs and interior and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the list was fake and no action would be taken against them.
Sources said Law Minister Zahid Hamid suggested that the lawmakers move a privilege motion in the National Assembly. However, they said they did not want to prolong the matter and simply wanted that their names be cleared officially.
The prime minister and NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq agreed with the suggestions presented by the lawmakers.
The IB and the Prime Minister House have on multiple occasions denied the existence of any such list, and the information ministry has termed it a forgery.
During the Friday meeting, the head of the civilian spy agency assured the lawmakers that his organisation was not responsible for the list in question.
Only on Thursday, the government faced an embarrassment in the National Assembly when, one after the other, members from the treasury benches lashed out at their political leadership.
Soon after the lower house of parliament approved two amendments to the recently-passed Elections Act, 2017 Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada came down hard on the government for what he termed “insulting me and other members of parliament”.
He claimed that the list was prepared by the IB on an initiative taken by the Prime Minister House.
Despite repeated attempts, Mr Pirzada was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, Najaf Abbas Siyal, one of the legislators whose name was included in the fake IB list, suffered a heart attack and was admitted to a private hospital, another ruling party MNA Sheikh Fayyazuddin told media.
“We believe that my colleague has become so embarrassed and tense for having his name on the list and thus suffered the heart attack,” Mr Fayyazuddin said, adding that the condition of Mr Siyal was critical.
Mr Fayyaz raised the issue in the National Assembly that there was no ventilator in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) Hospital when Mr Siyal was taken there on Thursday night. Finally, he was admitted to a private hospital. “If this is the condition of one of the biggest hospitals of the capital, it should be closed down or it should be given to a private party to run,” he said.