Fight 'corruption' not terrorism, IB told

Several key officers of Intelligence Bureau have been transferred

Fight 'corruption' not terrorism, IB told

Amid a major reshuffle within the premier civilian intelligence outfit, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has been directed to concentrate on fighting corruption instead of countering terrorism, The Friday Times has learnt. Although IB chief Dr Suleman Khan denied this development while talking to TFT, sources within the agency insist that they have been tasked to bring forward corruption cases against prominent political figures and pay attention to these areas.

“There are other agencies and organisations which were trained for anti-corruption efforts. IB should not do this. Its expertise is in countering terrorism and its focus should not be redirected towards corruption,” said Ehsan Ghani, a recently retired former chief of the IB while talking to TFT.

Dr Suleman, who has also served the agency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is counted among those who played a vital role in countering terrorism in the province with the help of the police and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD). Now, sources say, he has agreed to shelve counter-terrorism as a subject of the agency, as another agency has been tasked to deal with it.

Dr Suleman was appointed chief of the agency by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the recommendation of Aftab Sultan, the then IB chief

But in a conversation with TFT, Dr Suleman denied this. “I come from a background of counter-terrorism, how can I abandon something I have worked on for years?”

Dr Suleman, an officer inducted in police service, was first promoted to grade 22 and then appointed chief of the agency by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on the recommendation of Aftab Sultan, the then IB chief. Sultan was familiar with Dr Suleman’s work as he had served under him as chief of IB in KP. Sultan was of the opinion that Dr Suleman's performance in his role was excellent and recommended him for the job on his retirement.

Suleman was promoted despite objections by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), as there was a pending corruption case against him, which later got cleared when he assumed office as the civilian spy chief.

After completion of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s tenure in government, an interim government swapped Dr Suleman with another grade 22 officer from police service, Ehsan Ghani, who was serving as head of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA). Ghani was appointed IB chief and after elections, he retired from service on August 4 as chief of the agency.

Ehsan Ghani served IB during the tenure of the interim government

After Ghani’s retirement, the caretaker regime appointed Shujatullah Qureshi, a grade 21 career officer of the IB, to head the agency and run it on a da-to-day basis until the appointment of a new chief.

On August 28, Dr Suleman was once again appointed as the new spymaster of the agency, this time on the recommendation of Secretary to the Prime Minister Azam Khan. The two had developed an association during Dr Suleman’s time in KP, where Khan was serving as chief secretary of the province.

Sources say the day Dr Suleman was appointed as chief, he spent hours at the office of another agency. After taking charge, he changed all key officers of the agency, including those “undesirables” against whom once a media campaign was also carried out, apparently on directions of “someone.”

When contacted, Dr Suleman defended changes in the agency by saying, “I brought these changes myself, in the best interest of my organisation. There is nobody behind this.”

Sources in the agency claim that the day Dr Suleman was appointed as chief, he spent hours at the office of another agency. After taking charge, he changed all key officers of the agency, including those “undesirables” against whom once a media campaign was also carried out

Shujatullah Qureshi, an officer of the IB cadre who had spent 33 years in agency, applied for two years leave before his retirement after Dr Suleman’s appointment was announced. He opted to gracefully leave the agency as he decided not to work on a junior post of the same agency which he had recently headed. Qureshi wish was not fulfilled and he was transferred to NACTA without any formal request from the authority. Sources say this is unprecedented, as most officers who request leave before retirement do not get transferred.

Fawad Asadullah, another grade 21 officer of the IB, who was serving as joint director of the agency for Islamabad and Rawalpindi, was also transferred to NACTA. He had given 28 years to this agency. Naveed Ilahi, the counter-intelligence head of the agency serving as its deputy director general in grade 20, was also transferred to NACTA. He, too, is an IB cadre officer.

NACTA Chief Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak refused to accept services of Asadullah and Ilahi. Instead, he wrote a letter to the Establishment Division, saying he needed officers of his choice. Qureshi did not turn up, as he was on two years pre-retirement leave.

Back in IB, the controversial reshuffle continued as IB chiefs of the Punjab and Sindh were also ordered to pack up and leave. Rao Sardar, a grade 21 officer of the police service, was made Officer on Special Duty (OSD). He was leading IB in the Punjab. Moin Habib, a grade 20 officer of the Punjab, Moin Habib, was also transferred and sent to National Police Bureau (NPB). He was deputy of Rao Sardar.

Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, a grade 20 officer of police service, who was heading IB in Sindh (Karachi), has also been asked to leave IB and report to the Establishment Division. Sheikh in Karachi and Sardar in the Punjab had played a key role in bringing the agency at par with other agencies of the country, sources say.

They say Farooq Mazhar Sheikh has been appointed in the Punjab, replacing Sardar and Azad Khan has been appointed in Sindh in Sheikh’s position, with specific directions to find cases of corruption against the Sharifs, Zardari and people linked to them.

Arif Nadeem, another officer of IB working in grade 19, was transferred from Quetta where he was working as number two. He, too, has been sent to National Police Academy in Islamabad and thus, out of the agency.

Sajid Kayani, a grade 19 officer of the police service, was also surrendered to the Establishment Division. Kayani was heading the agency in Rawalpindi.

Two more grade 19 officers of the IB, namely Bilal Burki and Awais Ayub, also fell victim to this reshuffle. Burki has been serving as staff officer of eight different IB chiefs, including police stalwarts Dr Shoaib Suddle, Javed Noor and Aftab Sultan. Awais Ayub served as director of IB Chief Secretariat.

Sources say the IB, which played a key role in countering terrorism with the provincial Counter-Terrorism Departments (CTD), is being transformed into an anti-corruption agency.

When asked about these recent changes in the IB, Ghani said, “I know some officers who were transferred. They are very good. However, if the DG thinks that this is in the interest of the organisation, then it is his discretion to do so.”