SBP rejects TV anchorperson’s allegations that prime suspect Imran Ali maintained 37 bank accounts, mostly foreign currency denominated
SBP governor says Imran only had a digital wallet account with Rs130 in it
Masood backtracks from allegation, says ‘things are often misreported’
SC reschedules hearing of Zainab suo motu case, summons TV anchor, other officials on Sunday
LAHORE: TV anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood’s claim that the prime suspect in the rape and murder case of seven-year-old Zainab Ameen and seven other minor girls was linked with an international pornography ring and maintained at least 37 bank accounts has turned out to be yet another case of fake news, as the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced on Friday that the suspect did not have any bank account in the country.
The central bank launched a probe into multiple bank accounts allegedly held by the suspect Imran Ali and found that no account was registered under the suspect’s name and CNIC data.
SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa said that Imran had only a digital wallet account which has only Rs 130 in it.
The SBP report was reviewed at a meeting attended by Additional Secretary of Interior Azam Suleman and other high ranking officials.
The SBP report states that the nation is being misled through a fake list of suspect’s bank accounts.
While addressing a press conference on the issue on Friday, Punjab government spokesman Malik Ahmed Khan said that the SBP had sent a letter to the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) confirming that the suspect had no bank accounts in any commercial banks in Pakistan.
“This officially confirms that Dr Shahid Masood concocted a baseless story which we have failed to understand the reason behind, without thinking of its consequences,” Khan said, adding that the story about the suspect’s bank accounts had threatened to derail investigations.
“We have asked Dr Shahid Masood to appear before the JIT twice but he has failed to appear,” Khan said, adding that the Punjab government would serve a legal notice to the anchorperson for distortion of facts in the extremely sensitive case.
Earlier, the Punjab government also said that the anchor did not appear before the JIT to share information about his claims.
“Despite written notice, Dr Shahid Masood didn’t appear before the JIT formed by Punjab government to share the proof of information he claimed about bank accounts allegedly held by the accused in Zainab case. His contact numbers are switched off and we couldn’t connect,” a tweet by the provincial government said.
Despite written notice, Dr. Shahid Masood didn’t appear before the JIT formed by Punjab govt to share the proof of information he claimed about bank accounts allegedly held by the accused in Zainab case. His contact numbers are switched OFF and we couldn’t connect .
— Govt Of The Punjab (@GovtOfPunjab) January 26, 2018
SHAHID MASOOD BACKTRACKS ON CLAIM:
Soon after the SBP report was broadcast on TV channels, Shahid Masood backtracked from his statement, saying that things are often misreported.
Speaking to a private news channel, the anchorperson said that investigation was not his responsibility and it was the job of state institutions to find the authenticity of the news.
“I did not provide this information with any wrong intent,” he said.
Masood, in his TV show claimed that the Punjab government has brazenly lied to people about the prime suspect. He was later summoned by the Supreme Court to clarify and back his accusations.
Meanwhile, the hearing of the SC’s suo moto notice on the matter has also been re-scheduled for Sunday. A notification requiring the Punjab additional advocate general, police officials, Dr Shahid Masood and others to appear in the court’s Lahore registry was issued on Friday. The hearing had earlier been set for Monday.
Earlier on Friday, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal too had said that the SC and media had been caught up in a “make-believe” story on the Kasur case propagated by the anchor and aimed at defaming the government.
He said that the latest example of how social media is a “tool for fifth generation warfare” came about following the arrest of Zainab’s murderer when the Punjab government was being praised.
“Suddenly a make-believe spin was thrown in which the media and the Supreme Court got caught up in,” he said.
“This proves how big of a tool of chaos and disruption social media is,” the minister said, adding that “it later turned out that the news run by an anchor, on which the Supreme Court also took notice, was entirely make-believe.”
He warned that numerous such ‘attacks’ on the government “could be expected as it was election year.”
“Make-believe, fictitious and false news stories will be spread by foreign agencies via social media,” he added.
In his programme on TV channel NewsOne, Shahid Masood had claimed that the suspect maintained over 37 bank accounts, mostly foreign currency denominated, with transactions in dollars, euros and pounds sterling. He had repeated the allegations in the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The story was given a new twist on Thursday, when Masood handed over to Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar two names written on a folded paper of people who, he claimed, were behind an international racket running a child pornography ring.
Later, while talking to journalists, he claimed that one of them was a sitting federal minister but kept the name secret, saying the disclosure might endanger the life of the suspected killer of the Kasur girl who was arrested on Tuesday.
In his programme, Masood had requested the chief justice, prime minister and army chief to take notice of these facts, claiming that the rapist was neither a psychic, deranged or an insane person nor a simpleton.
The Supreme Court is already seized with a suo motu case about Zainab’s rape and murder.