Issue No 66, Nov 9-15, 2003 | ISSN:1684-2057 | satribune.com

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Musharraf Fires US Spy Agency for Pushing Amir Lodhi's Arrest

Maleeha's Fugitive Brother Allowed to Sneak Away from Embassy in Washington

Special SAT Report

ISLAMABAD: A major scandal about the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) of General Musharraf's military government came to light last week when a private US spying company disclosed that wanted fugitive Amir Lodhi, brother of the Pakistan High Commissioner to UK Maleeha Lodhi, had been tracked down several times but allowed to sneak out by the Government, once from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.

According to Pakistan's influential Daily 'Dawn', Amir Lodhi, an arms dealer, was wanted by the Government of Pakistan in the French submarines case in which a former Pakistan Navy Chief, Admiral Mansurul Haq had been nabbed by the same spy agency and made to pay $7.5 million to the Pakistan Government.

Dawn reported, quoting unnamed sources, that the US company, Broadsheet, a private spy tracking agency hired by NAB, had protested as it had tracked Amir Lodhi, the brother of Maleeha Lodhi, a number of times, but the NAB was not ready to get him extradited.

"In one instance, officials quoted company sources as saying, he was allowed to sneak away from Pakistan's Embassy in Washington," Dawn said.

It reported: "Pakistan recently terminated the contract of US assets recovery company, Broadsheet, as the company had raised objection on NAB's "selective approach."

The paper said Pakistan had exposed itself to costly international arbitration in Ireland by terminating the contract of Broadsheet because of political favoritism.

Dawn quoted officials saying the US company was frustrated at the approach of the National Accountability Bureau, as it was governed by what it termed political expediency.

The NAB had entered into an agreement with Broadsheet, a specialist in asset recovery, for regaining the plundered national wealth stashed in foreign banks by public office holders.

The bureau had agreed to pay 20 per cent of the amount recovered with the help of the company. Under the contract, the government was required to hand over a list of its "targets" to the company.

The sources said US company was not happy how its good work for nabbing the wanted men like, Amir Lodhi, and Abdullah Shah, was squandered by NAB for political expediency.

Similarly, Dawn said, NAB showed no interest in the arrest of Abdullah Shah, former chief minister of Sindh, when the company had tracked him down as well. Sources said the company, which was getting paid only on the recovery of the stolen wealth, wanted to lay hands on at least eight Pakistani bureaucrats, and politicians hiding in foreign lands, but the NAB advised the company to "hold on."

The NAB is reportedly negotiating a similar agreement with a British law firm for the same purposes. So far, the best catch in the NAB's history, former naval chief Mansurul Haq, was made possible with the help of the US company, and for that the company was paid 20 per cent of the recovered $7.5 million.

The company, which was provided a list of 250 "targets" of politicians, and bureaucrats, was also miffed at the government's deals with some of its potential targets. One of its target, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, became a minister with the change of government.

The unilateral termination of the contract, sources said, in all probabilities would be raised before the arbitrators sitting in Ireland as per the agreement.

Pakistan has been losing millions of dollars to foreign companies because of inept decisions. Its disputes with Saba Shipyard, Bayinder of Turkey, Impregilo of Italy, and SGS of Switzerland is costing Pakistan millions of dollars on litigation with these companies in foreign jurisdictions, Dawn reported.

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