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NA record changed to protect MQM MNA who beat journalist

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Secretariat, known for obsessive secrecy about the attendance of MNAs, has allegedly doctored the record of an MNA who is facing criminal charges of beating a journalist in Lahore.

The MNA was shown to be present in the assembly on the date and time when the incident took place miles away in Lahore. The forgery, likely to be established due to undeniable evidence, will not only raise serious questions about the authenticity of the NA record, it may project the assembly as a sanctuary for alleged criminals who can hide behind its wall after committing offences.

MQM MNA Tahira Asif hurled abuses at a journalist Akmal Ghumman in Lahore and then got him thrashed black and blue by her bodyguard for parking an out-of-order car near a petrol pump. Now she has dissociated herself from the incident claiming that she was present in the assembly session that day.

Although the police are reluctant to register an FIR against the sitting MNA, the telephone record they acquired from the cellular company gave credence to Akmal’s claim. The record, also shared with The News, shows that Tahira was in the range of the cellular company’s tower situated at Grace Hotel that is near the place where the brawl occurred.

Tahira confirmed to The News that the phone number (whose record was obtained) is only used by her but insisted on her presence in Islamabad that day along with the cell phone.As the police dilly-dally on registering the FIR despite a court order, Akmal, a senior producer of Radio Pakistan, has been suspended by DG Radio Samina Waqar for daring to go public on his alleged maltreatment.

The friendship of Tahira Asif and Samina Waqar dates back to their performing last year’s Hajj together that followed the suspension of Akmal. Tahira previously made headlines by slapping a Motorway Police official some years ago after he stopped her car for violating traffic rules. The cop, like Akmal, was later suspended.

Tahira was PML-Q MNA in the last assembly and later switched to MQM that returned her to parliament on a reserved seat.Incidentally, DG Radio Samina Waqar is also in the headlines these days on corruption charges relating to the alleged non-transparency in awarding contracts to her favorites.

Tahira’s clash with Akmal occurred on September 27, 2013. The incident took place at about 11a.m when Akmal’s car broke down near Shimla Hill while he was on his way to the office. As he was discussing the problem with the mechanic and turned the warning light on, a white Prado (LEC-13-356) emerged.

Tahira Asif who was inside rolled down the window glass and allegedly started rebuking Akmal for parking the car on the road. He initially sought pardon and explained the reason. As Tahira kept hurling abuses, the situation turned ugly as it followed heated exchanges from both sides. Two guards accompanying Tahira got off the Prado and started beating Akmal. His glasses broke down and he received multiple injuries on his face. The accused then issued serious threats and fled away, reads the petition Akmal filed with district and session judge praying the police be ordered to register FIR, which has not been done to date.

The incident received wide media coverage. A private TV channel flashed the news and interviewed Akmal that followed his suspension from Radio Pakistan, which punished him for going public as Tahira brought the issue to the attention of DG Radio.

DG Radio confirmed to The News the suspension of Akmal after the complaint lodged by MNA Tahira Asif. Describing the grounds of suspension, she said Akmal should not have gone on air about the incident.

Tahira Asif insisted while talking to The News that she was in Islamabad and no such incident took place. However, she confirmed that Prado and the cell phone are owned by her.

Akmal contradicted her version of the story and defended his position by producing the record of her phone number acquired by police that established her presence at that date and time in Lahore.

He challenged her to show the video footage of her presence in the assembly session in support of her claimed presence in Islamabad that day. The News also asked Tahira to get the record of her phone number determining her location in line with the assembly’s attendance record. She however refused to do so.

The News also attempted a number of times to approach the concerned officer of NA Secretariat Muhammad Mushtaq (deputy secretary legislation) but failed. The message and phone number was dropped to his staff who earlier excused that he was taking another phone call and will return the call but he did not.

The News