Minister slams FIA, defends Moonis

LAHORE: Law Minister Babar Awan has cast doubt on the neutrality of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and said that the son of an opposition leader is being ‘wrongly’ implicated in the National Insurance Company (NICL) case.Talking to journalists at the Hazrat Mian Mir shrine on Sunday, he said: “The only sin of Moonis Elahi is that he is the son of (former Punjab chief minister) Pervaiz Elahi.”The FIA has approached a court to get arrest warrants issued for Moonis who has not responded to summons for joining the NICL investigations.The law minister commented on the NICL issue, but declined to say anything US citizen Raymond Davis’s double murder case because “the issue is sub judice”.Referring to former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement on the diplomatic status of Davis, the minister said the government would not allow anybody to try to become a hero by politicising the issue.

“Anybody who is no more part of the government has no right to give policy statements on important issues.”He said the US was demanding release of Davis, while Pakistan wanted release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.He said selection of the cabinet was a matter pertaining to the party leadership not the prerogative of the prime minister or the president.“It is up to the party leadership to select suitable persons for different slots, deciding who can better serve the masses,” he said, referring to exclusion of some people from the cabinet.Mr Awan said the next phase of the cabinet expansion would come soon.He said a committee set up to make arrangements for the proposed round-table conference would hold its first meeting this week.

He said no proposal was under consideration to cut the salaries of government employees.Speaking at the Punjab Bar Council, Mr Awan said the government would cooperate with the judiciary in implementing its orders regarding former president Pervez Musharraf and Raymond Davis.He said the judiciary was independent and issuance of warrants for the arrest of a former dictator in the Benazir Bhutto murder case was a clear manifestation of it.He said it would be unjustified to say that the government was playing politics on the issue of Gen (retd) Musharraf’s arrest warrants, adding that it was only following court orders.He said lawyers were important members of the society and the government was amending the Constitution to ensure that the federal and provincial governments allocated separate budgets for the legal community – Dawn