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After FIA declares singer Meesha Shafi guilty in vilification campaign against Ali Zafar, investigation launched against her lawyer Nighat Dad on embezzlement charges of millions of dollars in foreign funding

  • Nighat’s NGO DRF in the dock for securing foreign funding in “Metoo movement”
  • Nighat refuses to respond 12 basic questions
  • Interior ministry to look into the matter
  • Donors likely to freeze more funding on misuse of Metoo movement
  • The whole case takes new shape
After FIA declares singer Meesha Shafi guilty in vilification campaign against Ali Zafar, investigation launched against her lawyer Nighat Daad on embezzlement charges of millions of dollars in foreign funding

By Nazim Malik

Startling revelations have been coming to the fore in the ‘sexual harassment episode’ involving actor-singer Ali Zafar and singer Meesha Shafi.

It has been gleaned that Meesha’s lawyer Nighat Dad has allegedly misused ‘Metoo Movement’ and acquired huge foreign funding on its pretext.

Ms Dad who is said to be a brainchild behind the vilification campaign against Ali Zafar on social media is facing investigations for illegally operating NGO — Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) – and acquiring millions of dollars in connection with “Metoo movement’ by interior ministry.

“Ms. Nighat Dad is accused of utilizing international foreign funding without due compliance of applicable laws and policies of the federal government,” Advocate Adnan Ashraf Tarar said

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has already booked Meesha Shafi and eight other accomplices of her including Leena Ghani and Iffat Omar on the charges of maligning Ali Zafar on social media and also declared them ‘guilty’ in its interim challan submitted to the court.

Advocate Adnan Ashraf Tarar in a complaint filed in the interior ministry has alleged that illegal, unlawful and fraudulent activities of the organization of Nighat Dad. “Ms. Nighat Dad is accused of utilizing international foreign funding without due compliance of applicable laws and policies of the federal government,” Mr Tarar said.

The documents attached claimed that Nighat Dad is involved in fraud and misappropriation of donations received by her NGO. As per the audit report of year 2018 alone, DRF received Rs 35,013,625 (more than 35 million rupees) from foreign organizations.

It pointed out that the foundation of Meesha’s lawyer, DRF, in sheer violation of policy of ministries of Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization (Economic Affairs Division), has been receiving foreign funding/contribution from International NGOs and organizations.
“DRF had neither registered itself with the ministry of interior nor any annual audited statement been submitted to government with the certificate from the auditor to the effect that the foreign contribution is being utilized for the objective of the organization as specified in the Memorandum of Association.”

According to the complaint, DRF is receiving foreign economic assistance from International NGOs and organizations and is required to be registered with the Ministry of Interior as per the Policy of 2013 and the Policy of 2015. However, the DRF has failed to obtain the requisite permission from the Ministry of Interior to continue its operations in Pakistan and as per information; no application to that effect has been filed by DRF with the ministry of Interior, it said.

The District Deputy Officer (IPWM) Lahore vide its letter dated 10.03.2017 directed the executive director (Nighat Dad) of DRF to comply with the notification of 2015 by registering DRF with the Ministry of Interior.
The complaint said owing to the failure to comply with the policies of the Ministry of Interior the registration of DRF is not renewed since 2017 by the Registrar Joint Stock Companies Lahore.

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The complainant believed that since 2016 the DRF had failed to submit its annual audit accounts even with the Registrar Joint Stock Companies Lahore in violation of the Act of 1860. “The founding member/executive director (Nighat Dad) is receiving funds from local donors and is also receiving economic assistance from foreign NGOs and organization and the same are being misappropriated and embezzled,” it said.

“If the illegal and unlawful actions of founding member/executive director (Nighat Dad) of DRF and by other board members are allowed to continue the funds of the society will not be accounted for and would be used for purposes other than the objects for which DRF has been incorporated. Not only this, the funds would definitely be misappropriated for personal gains. These illegal activities and actions of Nighat Dad from the platform of DRF have resulted into failure to achieve the aims and objects of the DRF since its registration,” the complainant said.

The complainant believed “The founding member/executive director (Nighat Dad) is receiving funds from local donors and is also receiving economic assistance from foreign NGOs and organization and the same are being misappropriated and embezzled,” it said.

According to the complaint, the DRF has also obtained exemption from the Income Tax Department under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 being non-profit organization. However, since its inception Nighat Dad has been running the affairs of DRF against its objects without any check and balance of the fund generated locally and from international foreign NGOs/organizations. “Therefore, the exemption given by the Income Tax Department is liable to be withdrawn and the assets of the organization are liable to be confiscated by the government.”

Advocate Adnan Ashraf Tarar demanded a forensic audit of DRF since incorporation and till that time suspension of affairs of DRF. A list of alleged lies made by Nighatdad in her different interviews is also attached with the application.

Pak Destiny (pakdestiny.com) sent a questionnaire to Nighat Dad on Wednesday morning to clarify her and her NGO’s position in the face of serious charges she is facing. But till Thursday evening she neither responded to the questionnaire nor to the call of Pak Destiny Editor Nazim Malik.

Ms Dad’s comments/version was sought by Pak Destiny on these set of questions.

Q1: It is alleged that your NGO is not registered with interior ministry as per 2013 and 2015 notifications nor it has submitted audited statements of DRF to interior ministry along with the statement of auditor regarding utilisation of funds and Registrar Joint Stock ?

Q2. All funds received by NGOs and their disbursement are public record. Can you provide us with those records? Would you make them public. If not. Why not ?

Q3. Many women have alleged that they did not receive the proper assistance and help from DRF when asked…. Would you like to clarify this ?

Q4. In the report filed in the FIA by singer-actor Ali Zafar he alleged that singer Meesha Shafi and other women including some fake accounts were all connected to you somehow.

Q5. It is also alleged that your NGO is involved in smear campaign against Ali Zafar and funds are used in this campaign also?

Q6. You have also been alleged to be connected to foreign elements acting on their behest in anti state activities and building false narrative against the state ?

Q7. Is it correct that DRF registration has not been renewed since 2017?

Q8. Is it correct that till registration with interior ministry you are not allowed to receive foreign funding?

Q9. Can you please give the details of restricted funds?

Q10. Can you share the details of people whom you have been helping financially through DRF?

Q11. Are you helping Meeaha Shafi financial by paying different lawyers engaged in different cases till Supreme Court?

Q12. Is it true that you deleted your audit report from your website when a lawyer Hassan Niazi pointed out the foreign funding element ?

Since Ms Nighat Dad does not wish to respond to these questions it is being inferred that perhaps she does not have any thing in her defence in this case and the interior ministry will follow the course of law. — PAK DESTINY

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