Who is Umar Farooq Zahoor?


ISLAMABAD: A suspect wanted in financial crimes in Norway who is now being linked with former DG FIA Bashir Memon has been found attending high-profile meetings during Imran Khan government, officially released pictures show, and he traveled to Pakistan on more than 60 occasion in 14 years (2006-2019), according to FIA record.

The record further suggests that Interpol canceled red notice against the suspect, Umar Farooq Farooq Zahoor after Norwegian authorities didn’t respond to the queries of Interpol within due period and that Memon had only forwarded the application, he received from Zahoor when he (Memon) was DG FIA. It has been learnt that FIA plans to implicate its former boss in another inquiry in case efforts to penalise Zahoor’s case doesn’t yield result.

Zahoor is a close confidante of an important member of a Middle Eastern state’s royal family, and has featured in different pictures together with the royal family member while meeting or attending important events in Pakistan. Now, as the government is set to tighten the noose around Memon for going public against the unlawful order he disclosed having received from the Prime Minister’s office, his picture with Zahoor is being used as evidence. In it, the royal family member was also present.

Incidentally, Zahoor was also present in different meetings with the member of the ME royal family he held with top government’s functionaries. In one meeting of April 2019, for example, Zahoor together with the member met Feisal Vawda, who was then the minister for water resources. Another such meeting was held with Omer Ayub, the minister for economic affairs.

Media has also reported the royal family member’s meetings with President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in connection with technological investment through the newly established Special Technology Zone Authority and ongoing energy projects like the $50 million LPG terminal at Port Qasim.

The member was then in Pakistan to launch Galaxy Racer Pakistan which he started in partnership deal with Fakhar Alam, who was also present in the meeting. President Alvi issued an inaugural message on the eve of its launching. Zahoor was not in picture in these meetings.

Zahoor has cases pending against him in Norway related to bank fraud and the Interpol issued red notices for his arrest. An attempt by Norway to get him extradited from the ME state remained unsuccessful when a state’s court ruled against his extradition. Zahoor insists that he was wrongly implicated and submitted an application to Memon which he forwarded to Interpol. The FIA is a liaison agency of Interpol in Pakistan and Memon was DG by the time the application he submitted.

He forwarded it to the Interpol which sought Norway’s comments on Zahoor’s application. Norway didn’t respond within due course and Interpol temporarily canceled the red notice against Zahoor.

Memon has been alleged of facilitating Zahoor notwithstanding the fact that the decision regarding the cancellation of red notice was of Interpol and doing so was beyond the scope of former DG FIA. As the record was summoned of correspondence between the FIA and Interpol about this case, it reconfirmed the above-mentioned details of his correspondence and Interpol’s reply.

Former DG FIA has been in the eye of a storm since he gave interviews to disclose how he was being pressed to proceed against the leaders of opposition partners on baseless charges which he had refused. He also revealed that top aides of the prime minister had also asked him to proceed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa on money-laundering charges and he didn’t.

The government has since made several efforts to penalise him. After his disclosure regarding pressure for cases against the opposition leaders, his pension was stopped through an official order which was suspended by the Islamabad High Court. The government has filed an appeal against this verdict. As he made disclosure about the government’s plan to file reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, his cooking oil mill was raided by Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), a subordinate institution of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

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