DG Bashir Memon seeks more investigative & administrative powers for FIA

ISLAMABAD: Director-General (DG) FIA, Bashir Ahmed Memon said the government should give more investigative and administrative autonomy to the agency to increase its efficiency and improve its performance.

The DG briefed a parliamentary committee on performance of the FIA and presented the recommendations to the government to bring structural reforms in the agency. He said FIA should be given administrative authority and FIA be made directly answerable to the PM (like IB). The Agency should be given investigative autonomy. MLA rules drafted by Amicus Curiae Ahmer Bilal Sufi under directions of Chief Justice should be adopted. Parliamentary Committee should be designated for oversight of FIA performance. FIA should be given access to all databases, for transparency, like IRIS & PRAL (FBR), CTR’s and STR’s (FMU), Family Tree (NADRA), Call Data Records and Companies Databases (SECP).

In his briefing, the DG said the FIA made tangible recoveries in 2018 in economic crimes and anti-corruption cases including SSGC recovery of Rs 78 billion, AML Karachi case recovery of Rs 48 billion, FIA Field Unit Recoveries of Rs 6.6 billion, Petroleum Levy Scam recovery of Rs 4.18 billion, BGP Pak International Karachi recovery of Rs 673 million and Abandoned Properties Org. Recovery of Rs 341 million.

He said Pakistan has been removed from Watchlist of Human Trafficking (US State Dept) in June 2018. 181 persons have been placed on a temporary No-fly List (PNIL) – whose authority was given by the SCP. In 30 years comparison (1987 to 2017), FIA workforce increased by just 63% while its workload increased by 484%. Only 654 officers are working at Investigations Ranks while only 11 Assistant Director Legal are working on adhoc Prosecutors vs High Profile Lawyers.

He said total annual budget of FIA was Rs 2.99 billion rupees including pays and allowances of Rs 2.47 billion, means cost of per inquiry/case is only Rs 593. There is no internal accountability as discipline and accountability of BS-17 and above officers vest outside the agency (Ministry). Thirteen DGs have been changed in last 7 years. FIA has no authority to question Public Office Holders without prior permission. FIA is not designated in any international of instrument of cooperation like UNCAC, UNTOC. It has no authority to liaise with any international agency (including tax haves).

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is a border control, criminal investigation, counter-intelligence and security agency under the control of the Interior Secretary of Pakistan, tasked with investigative jurisdiction on undertaking operations against terrorism, espionage, federal crimes, smuggling, cyber crimes, immigrations and human trafficking, economic and banking crimes as well as infringement, corruption and other specific crimes.

Codified under the Constitution of Pakistan in 1974, the institution functions under the Ministry of Interior (MoI). The FIA also undertakes international operations with the close co-operation and co-ordination of Interpol. Its executive figure is appointed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and confirmed by the President. The current Director-General (DG FIA) is Bashir Memon, a grade 22 PSP officer, appointed in August 2017. The DG FIA reports to the Interior Secretary of Pakistan. The Director General of the FIA is assisted by three Additional Director-Generals and ten Directors for effective monitoring and smooth functioning of the operations spread all over the country.

The FIA is headquartered in Islamabad and also maintains a separate training FIA Academy, also in Islamabad which was opened in 1976. In 2002, FIA formed a specialised wing for investigating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related crimes. This wing of the FIA has state-of-the-art Digital Forensic Laboratories managed by highly qualified Forensic Experts.