Home Latest News FIA Registers Sedition Case against Shaukat Tarin

FIA Registers Sedition Case against Shaukat Tarin

Interior minister confirms that federal government has permitted FIA to arrest Tarin for attempting to derail talks with IMF

by Staff Report

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The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday registered a sedition case against former finance minister Shaukat Tarin over his alleged attempts to derail a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in August 2022.

According to the First Information Report (FIR) registered by the FIA’s cybercrime wing, Tarin sought to influence the finance ministers of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with “malafide intentions and ulterior motives” when the country was awaiting an IMF deal to avert the threat of default. Citing two audio recordings, which were leaked on social media, of conversations between Tarin and the provincial finance ministers, it said they “clearly” feature the former finance minister seeking letters to the IMF stating that they would not agree to returning surplus budget to the federal government. This, notes the FIR, would have “critically” affected the IMF deal.

During the inquiry, read the FIR, Tarin had been summoned and questioned about the conversations but had failed to provide satisfactory answers. “This implied that the accused is hiding facts regarding the instant matter and lying about his intentions and motive behind the alleged conversation,” it said, claiming such actions “may disrupt public tranquility and create an ill-will among pillars of the state.” Such actions, the FIR states, could also trigger alarm among the general public over the state of Pakistan’s economy. “Thus, the alleged conversation is considered an act of sedition against the state,” it said, adding that in this regard a case had been registered against Tarin under Section 20 (malicious code) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, as well as Sections 124-A (sedition) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

A day earlier, while speaking with media, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had confirmed that an inquiry into Tarin’s conversations had been completed and the government had allowed the FIA to arrest the former finance minister. Alleging that Tarin was acting on the directions of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan to sow political and economic instability, Sanaullah added: “For this purpose, he [Khan] misled an innocent man like Shaukat Tarin. He [Tarin] fell into his trap and committed an act which could have caused immense damage to the country,” he added.

To a question, the interior minister said he believed Tarin should be punished for the attempted sabotage to serve as warning against any similar crimes in future.

Leaked phone calls

The alleged phone calls that have been cited for the case against Tarin were leaked on social media in August 2022, when then-finance minister Miftah Ismail was trying to revive a bailout with the IMF that had been suspended after Tarin and then-P.M. Imran Khan reneged on their agreement with the lender and implemented subsidies on fuel and electricity ahead of the vote of no-confidence.

In the alleged phone calls, a man believed to be Tarin asks then-Punjab finance minister Mohsin Leghari and then-KP finance minister Taimur Jhagra to renege on an earlier pledge to return budgetary surpluses to the federal government. “We only wanted the provincial finance minister to write to the federal government so pressure falls on these bastards … they’re jailing us, filing terrorism charges against us and they’re going away completely scot-free. We can’t allow this to happen,” Tarin allegedly tells Leghari, who inquires if such an action would hurt the state. “Well … frankly speaking, isn’t the state suffering the way they are treating your chairman and everybody else?” responds Tarin. “This will definitely happen that the IMF will ask ‘where will you arrange the money from’ and they [government] will bring another mini-budget,” he added.

The voice believed to be Tarin also notes that the information would be leaked to the press in a manner that “doesn’t seem we are hurting the state but we should at least present the facts that you won’t be able to give [surplus] so our commitment is zero.”

In his alleged conversation with Jhagra, Tarin asks him if he had penned a letter to the IMF. “[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 a voice purportedly belonging to Jhagra.

While Tarin has not denied that the voice on the audio is his, he has maintained that it was “tampered.”

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