FIA sought permission to arrest Shaukat Tarin


ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has sought permission from the Ministry of Interior to arrest former finance minister Shaukat Tarin in a case pertaining to his alleged role in derailment of the deal with International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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

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

Two audio leaks had surfaced in August last year in which a man purportedly ex-minister Tarin can be heard guiding Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab finance ministers, belonging to the PTI, to tell the PDM 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 Mr Tarin in September 2022, the FIA said an inquiry had been initiated against his alleged role on the basis of the audio leak. “In it, you are provoking him [Mr Jhagra] to write a letter to the federal government on behalf of the KP government that it will not return extra money of the fiscal budget so that interruption may be created between IMF and the Government of Pakistan.”

The agency, subsequently, directed the former finance minister to appear in person to record a version/statement in his defence at the FIA Cybercrime Reporting Centre.

In the phone calls, Mr 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 Mr Leghari.

In the same audio tape, when Mr Leghari asks Mr 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.”

Mr 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, Mr Tarin tells Mr 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, Mr Tarin can be heard asking Mr 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 Mr 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”. Mr 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.

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