ISLAMABAD: Inter Risk, the US security company which was banned in Pakistan, paid millions in bribes to Pakistani officials — and one staffer close to a minister has confessed that he received these bribes to issue 138 prohibited bore weapon licences.
The PS of the state minister for interior has already landed in jail for allegedly receiving the kickbacks to facilitate the issuance of 138 weapon licences to the Inter-Risk, the private US security company on contract in Pakistan, through his boss. The company’s licence was revoked some months back.
Sources say the ministry high-ups have withheld all the record wanted by the FIA for further investigations into the case. Qadir Nawaz, the PS hailing from the State Minister Tasneem Qureshi’s home district, has been sent to the Adiala Jail after his confession before the FIA that he received bribes in millions from the Inter-Risk.
This company was hired by DynCorp, a US contractor also working with the Pakistan Army Aviation. Qadir, together with the owner of Inter-Risk, Captain (retd) Zaidi and Jamil Abbasi, a Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf activist, who was a middleman between Zaidi and Qadir, are in jail now.
A Sessions Court has rejected their bail requests. Although, the ministry has cancelled the licence of Inter-Risk, the weapon licences granted in return for hefty bribes are intact. The minister of state for interior confirmed that his PS was behind the bars in the Adiala Jail. He also confirmed that PS Qadir Nawaz hails from his constituency and was in the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and he had brought him to the ministry.
But Qureshi said his PS was deliberately implicated in the case. As far the FIA’s request for provision of record is concerned, the minister denied any record had been withheld.Yet it is now more than two months that the FIA has been writing to the ministry, requesting the handover of records as the agency wants to dig deeper into the scandal to reach the real faces behind the case.
A number of reminders have been sent to no avail, an FIA source privy to the developments confirmed. Interior ministry officials in knowledge of this case informally confirmed to The News the FIA’s repeated requests and said the provision of record required an official nod from the top.
As many as 138 prohibited bore weapon licences were issued by State Minister Qureshi. The issuance of such licences is the prerogative of the prime minister, who had delegated the power to the state minister.
The FIA, sources said, has sought the full record relating to the issuance of these licences and how and under what rules they were granted.The subsequent reminders, instead of expediting the provision of desired documents, virtually froze the inquiry. “We want to determine that either the licences were fake or genuine; in the latter case how the genuine licences were issued and under what rules,” an FIA official said.
In October, the minister had confirmed that he ordered the issuance of licences after receiving a letter from Gerald M Feierstein, a senior US diplomat in the Islamabad Embassy, but denied that it was part of the US Embassy’s influence on him to proceed accordingly.
Qureshi had said that he issued the licences without referring the matter to the Foreign Office or the security agencies, as it was a routine affair. He had also said that the Inter-Risk was a registered security agency and the US Embassy wanted prohibited bore licences to beef up security of its personnel and interests.
The state minister had further stated that he was never informed about the fact that the Inter-Risk was a local partner of the American security company, DynCorp. He also did not know about the “fishy” affairs connected with the Inter-Risk.
“However, the fact remains that the relationship between the DynCorp and Inter-Risk was clearly mentioned by the US ambassador in her letter addressed to Interior Minister Rehman Malik dated March 30, 2009,” a report in The News by Ansar Abbasi on October 4, had reported.
The FIA sources said the agency was also investigating how the caches of banned weapons made their way into Pakistan and who was helping in the import. The Inter-Risk allegedly bribed the government officials to allow the shipment of banned weapons into Pakistan.
As far as the money invested on the controversial issuance of prohibited bore weapon licences is concerned, DynCorp handed $2,000 for each licence, totalling $276,000 for 138 weapons. As the money changed other hands before landing in the pocket of state minister’s PS, it has not been precisely established what amount went to Qadir, the PS. But he told the FIA the bribe rate fluctuated, it was low in the beginning and rocketed in later stages.