Former Pakistan dictator faces probe over multiple allegations

In this file photo, former Pakistani president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf addresses a youth parliament in Karachi on Dec. 4, 2014. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2018
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Former Pakistan dictator faces probe over multiple allegations

  • Anti-corruption watchdog NAB will investigate the former military ruler over “wrongful use of power”
  • Musharraf’s financial assets in Pakistan and abroad, including Dubai and the UK, will be included in the probe

ISLAMABAD: Following the Islamabad court directives, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) executive board decided Friday to investigate multiple allegations against Pakistan’s last military ruler, retired General Pervez Musharraf.
 
The chief allegations under probe are “wrongful use of power” and “holding assets beyond means.”
 
The decision follows this week’s statement of Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal, chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances and NAB chief, that as many as 4,000 Pakistanis were “secretly handed over” to foreign countries, during Musharraf’s rule while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights.

“How could someone secretly hand over the Pakistani nationals to any other country?” asked Iqbal, describing the actions illegal, unlawful and a violation of human rights.

Claims that Musharraf holds assets beyond his declared income source and that the ex-President, who held the position of Pakistan’s army chief simultaneously following the 1999 bloodless coup, misused his absolute power are accusations leveled by a retired military lawyer Lt. Col. Inamur Rahim.
 
Rahim in 2014 filed a petition at Islamabad High Court (IHC) to order NAB to investigate Musharraf. He asserts the former military ruler turned politician, during his nine-year reign, violated his oath to defend Pakistan and protect its people by selling Pakistanis for profit to western countries under the pretext of terrorism – a confession Musharraf has written in his memoir ‘In the Line of Fire’ under chapter ‘Man Hunt’, he pointed.
 
However, Mahreen Malik Adam, spokesperson for Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), told Arab News that the assertions as “baseless” and “exaggerated” but explained that those extradited were foreign terrorists, not Pakistanis.
 
The retired General who faces multiple court cases is also accused of incepting the corrupt practice of awarding precious land to ranking army officers over their entitled benefits.
 
APML Spokesperson told Arab News that the party would challenge the allegations after consulting with the leadership. It’s unclear whether Musharraf, who resides in UAE, will return anytime soon to participate in campaigns for the run-up to the 2018 general elections this year with odds stacked against him in the court of law.
 
In February, the IHC empowered NAB through an unprecedented judgment clarifying a 19-year old ambiguity in the 1999 National Accountability Ordinance to investigate retired personnel of the armed forces, previously thought impossible credited to another initiative of Rahim to hold former top brass accountable for illegal actions.
 
“In the light of the above discussion retired General Pervez Musharraf is amenable to be proceeded under the [NAB] Ordinance of 1999 and thus investigated, tried or convicted thereunder because of two eventualities; firstly, for having held the Constitutional post of the President of Pakistan and secondly, clause (vi) of section 5(m) of the Ordinance of 1999 is attracted because he had resigned and stands retired from the Armed Forces of Pakistan,” read the judgment order.
 
NAB Spokesman in a press statement sent to Arab News informed that the apex anti-corruption organization’s executive board has also ordered enquiries against former and incumbent officials of Capital Development Authority (CDA), Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA), Pakistan Railways including Bank of Punjab President, a Pakistani diplomat, and prominent leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q).


France bans Iran’s Mahan Air for flying arms, troops to Syria, elsewhere

Updated 25 March 2019
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France bans Iran’s Mahan Air for flying arms, troops to Syria, elsewhere

  • The ban will become effective starting April 1
  • The airlines were also banned by Germany since January

PARIS: France has banned flights in and out of the country by Iran’s Mahan Air, accusing it of transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria and other Middle East war zones, diplomats said on Monday, after heavy US pressure on Paris to act.
The decision to revoke Mahan’s license to operate in France was made after Germany banned the airline in January.
Paris had considered revoking its license more than two years ago under the presidency of Francois Hollande, but had backed down because it feared it could harm relations just after a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was signed in 2015.
The United States imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and Washington has been pressing its European allies to follow suit.
“We knew of their activities from our own intelligence services and after the German move it was a question of credibility,” said a French diplomatic source.
The French ban on the airline, which had four flights a week to Paris from Tehran, takes effect from April 1. The airline’s website is no longer taking reservations and calls to its offices in Paris were not answered.
Tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as President Emmanuel Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s ballistic missile tests, regional activities and a foiled attack on an Iranian exile group in France, which Paris says Iranian intelligence was behind.
Both countries only reappointed ambassadors to each other’s capitals last month after more than six months without envoys.
There are no plans at this stage to ban another airline — Iran Air — said one diplomat.
Mahan Air, established in 1992 as Iran’s first private airline, has the country’s largest fleet of aircraft and has flights to a number of European countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Greece.
European countries have been under sustained US pressure to reimpose sanctions on Iran since President Donald Trump last year pulled Washington out of an international nuclear non-proliferation treaty reached with Tehran under his predecessor Barack Obama.
Along with Iran, the other signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — are still trying to keep it alive and set up in January a mechanism to allow trade with Tehran and circumvent US sanctions.