ISLAMABAD: A National Assembly committee on Tuesday made contact with journalist Arshad Sharif to gain a better understanding of the matter regarding national security raised by the ARY News anchorperson.
In his TV programme “Power Play” on July 10, Arshad Sharif had claimed that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had prepared a list of 37 parliamentarians suspected to have links with banned organisations on the instructions of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
However, IB Director General Aftab Sultan denied the veracity of the claim, saying that the list was “a fake and forged document”.
After the news broke, the PML-N had faced embarrassment in the National Assembly when its own lawmakers staged a walkout from the house to register their protest over the issue.
IB issued a denial on the report, while Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also assured the affected lawmakers on the floor of the assembly that the “news” was fake.
To further pacify the situation, the prime minister arranged a meeting between the IB director general and several parliamentarians named in the list. The IB chief had reportedly assured the lawmakers that the said list was a fake document and had not been issued by his agency.
Both the IB chief and the TV host have since submitted their respective responses before the NA committee.
After Tuesday’s meeting, NA committee chairman Rana Afzal said that: “The IB chief has briefed the committee that the letter was bearing a fake number and that the agency had not issued any such letter,” and added that the bureau had not received any directives from Prime Minister House in this regard.
“The committee has collected complete record regarding the issue and will make final recommendations after reviewing the record,” he added.
The committee chairman further said that the meeting had been called ‘in-camera’ on IB’s request.
However, the journalist Arshad Sharif asserted that IB officials themselves had confirmed the list’s authenticity to him.
“The news was aired after confirming with two IB officials,” he maintained. The IB chief had then agreed to the possibility that a conspiracy might have been hatched in his office, said Sharif.
He also raised objections to holding the meeting in-camera and alleged that various forums are being used to suppress his voice. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Chairman Absar Alam has also threatened during the meeting that he would do whatever he can, Sharif claimed.
The journalist said that rejecting all unfavourable news has been a policy of the IB as it was evident from the proceedings of the meetings of parliamentary committees held between 2014 and 2017. He further said that even before airing this news, several media outlets had reported in July that the IB had been directed to act against any possible forward block forming within the treasury benches.