By Rauf Klasra
ISLAMABAD: The former top guns of the NAB might have forgotten that some eight years back, they destroyed the bright career, personal respect and reputation of an honourable civil servant Iqbal Farid in the name of “corruption” of only Rs 2,000 – the legal fee payable to CDA on account of transfer of the family house to his younger brother.
The senior bureaucrat, who was perceived as a close aide of the dethroned government of Nawaz Sharif as secretary commerce and chairman CBR, was only politically victimised. He was picked up in the hope of getting some inside information against Nawaz on charges of exporting sugar to India on huge rebate and turn him into an “approver”.
Iqbal Farid preferred to languish in jail instead of becoming an approver and paid a big price for his refusal to speak against Nawaz. After remaining silent for about eight years, Farid Iqbal shared details of his sufferings.
Farid was a grade 22 civil servant and his last regular posting was federal secretary Revenue Division/chairman CBR on October 12. One night, NAB officials picked him on charges of avoiding duty of Rs 2,000 payable on account of transfer of house to his brother. His case was publicised, attributing all kinds of wrongdoings and corrupt practices to him to destroy his image and hard-earned professional career. He had been kept in detention for 108 days, first at the police station, and then in Adalia Jail.
A brigadier continued to tell him that he would be released in next two days and he should cooperate with them in investigating other cases and, most importantly, he would not talk to the press about his long ordeal at least for four to five years.
No reference was filed against this officer and finally he was released. But, Farid was shocked to learn that his brothers were made to pay Rs10 million for his release. He was also accused of non-disclosure in tax wealth returns of share from sale of inherited shops. He said such disclosure was to be made only if the amount was not expended and was available at the taxable date i.e. on the last day of the year, which was not the case. Otherwise, one would not waste the inherited white money by not declaring it.
These allegations were framed to justify his detention and recovery of colossal amount from his family business to provide “face-savings” to the NAB. Iqbal Farid said even the then chairman NAB General Mohammad Amjad was misled by the then investigations/legal advisors. He disclosed that he was made to concede to so-called voluntary return in the office of the jail superintendent under pressure and he was directed not to talk to the press.
“This was simply a blackmailing to which I was subjected by NAB though I had quite recently undergone heart bypass and an ailing 87 years old mother was gravely concerned about me. The NAB did not realise that while saving their own face, they were defacing and murdering the 35 years unblemished career of a diligent civil servant as borne out by his confidential record”.
As he was innocent, so after his release he was posted as an OSD and later retired with full benefits on August 1, 2000. But his humiliation did not end here as his release was once again widely publicised in a manner that it should appear as corruption money was extracted from an “accused”. The humiliation continued when his name was put on the NAB website in the list of other accused.
However, when General Munir Hafeez became the chairman NAB, he took a judicious view after examining the actual facts and conceded that it was incorrect to mention his name in the list of corrupt bureaucrats and he gave in writing that it was not a case of plea bargain and he could hold public office or take loans.
Iqbal Farid believes now that besides unjustified recovery, the whole issue is of reputation and image and standing among the colleagues, friends and above all the family, which has very sensitive implications.
“Whatever happened in the heat of events on whatever misconceived perceptions is history. I am speaking now to seek vindication of my honour,” he told The News. “This is time for someone in the NAB not only to tender a public apology to me but also return Rs 10 million to my brothers which they had forcibly taken from those poor souls after applying blackmailing tactics in the office of the jail superintendent,” Iqbal Farid said.
Source: The News, 21/4/2008