Monday, January 11, 2010

Jang Group & Shaheen Sehbai VS Saudi Arabia.

WASHINGTON, October 17: Dear Readers, this is the final piece on the South Asia Tribune, as this site is now being closed for good. I understand that it may come as a rude shock to many and may create despair and depression for all those who had started to look up to SAT as a beacon of courage and resistance, but this decision has been based on many factors, which I will explain briefly. SAT would be on line for the rest of this month, till the end of October. On November 1, 2005 it will disappear from the Internet. All those who may be interested in keeping a record of any SAT article or report can save it any time before that date. REFERENCE: The Final Word from theSouth Asia Tribune By Shaheen Sehbai WASHINGTON DC, Oct 17, 2005 ISSN: 1684-2057

Mr Shaheen Sehbai (former correspondent of Daily Dawn; former editor of The News; ex Director News of ARY ONE TV Channel; former director of GEO News Network; and presently Group Editor the News), escaped from Pakistan to save himself from the so-called wrath of the establishment headed by General Musharraf, after the controversy surrounding his story about the murder of Daniel Pearl. It was apparently simply to obtain the Green Card for himself, and his family in the United States. Mr Sehbai then started to run a web based news service, i.e., South Asia Tribune, funded through dubious sources, but he suddenly reappeared and closed his website. During his self-imposed exile in the USA, he used to raise hue and cry against the military establishment that he and his family members’ life was in danger, but the so-called danger suddenly vanished after the whole family getting the Green Cards. He then returned to Pakistan and that too under the same Musharraf regime, and joined ARY TV channel, then GEO, and then the News, where he is presently working.

Now as to how Jang Group/The News International plays with the National Interest of Pakistan.


By Shaheen Sehbai in Washington and Rauf Klasra in Islamabad Vol-2, Jul 27-Aug 02, 2002 ISSN:1684-0275 Vol-2, Jul 27- Aug 02, 2002 ISSN:1684-0275

It can only be called mind boggling. Something very mysterious and fishy was going on between the Saudi Royal family and General Musharraf's government prior to September 11 WTC attacks. Or, as the Pakistan Ambassador to the Royal Kingdom hinted, someone was trying to use the name of the Saudi royals to promote some hidden agenda in Pakistan under the garb of huge investments. Documents in Pakistani Government files show that on Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz's invitation, a Saudi prince had offered to invest close to $10 billion in Pakistan, an offer which was unprecedented in Pakistani and Saudi history. The money would have come over a few years but $300 million were immediately made available and the Saudis were very eager to get things off the ground, as if in a great rush.

The offer was so serious General Musharraf himself wrote a letter to the Saudi prince, inviting him to Islamabad. The prince wrote back accepting the invitation and first sent his representatives to do the ground work. The Saudis wanted to invest in four key sectors: Renew a whole new city project near capital Islamabad (a project launched by the Benazir Bhutto government but later abandoned); take over country's second largest and lucrative Habib Bank of Pakistan; build an oil refinery in Port city of Karachi; and build or buy a five star hotel. The projections of investment were $4 billion in the city project, $2 billion for the oil refinery, $2-3billion for Habib Bank and $100 million for the five-star hotel.

This mysterious story began with secret negotiations between the two sides sometime in beginning of 2000 resulted in General Pervez Musharraf dispatching a letter on Nov 6, 2002 to Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, said to be Chairman of the little known International Islamic Development Trust (IIDT) and International Infrastructure Development Company (IIDC). (Click to view the image).

The prince had accepted to be Chairman of the company on April 9, 2000 vide a signed letter (Click to view the image). URL:

The highly pleased prince responded with his own letter to General Musharraf dated Nov 30, 2000 in which he disclosed that a team of IIDC/IIDT was already "in serious negotiations" with Pakistani officials as he was writing the reply. (Click to view the image).

General Musharraf was asked to give an audience to the prince's man, IIDT President one Mr Saeed Akhtar, who, he wrote, "can brief you in person (about) the avenues we are seeking for cooperation and investment." It is not clear whether General Musharraf received Saeed Akhtar but in two letters sent to the Board of Investment, Government of Pakistan, on Dec 14 and Dec 20, 2000, IIDT and its subsidiary SUNWAYCO, gave details of the proposed investments. Ambassador Asad Durrani says SUNWAYCO was not a Saudi-backed company and no royal family member was involved. He also disputes that Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz had anything to do with these offers but he says Prince Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz has been investing in Pakistan. The documents in Pakistan Government files, however, mention Prince Sultan Bin Turki and his signatures, genuine or forged, are there on at least three documents. It is not clear whether General Musharraf received Saeed Akhtar but in two letters sent to the Board of Investment, Government of Pakistan, on Dec 14 and Dec 20, 2000, IIDT and its subsidiary SUNWAYCO, gave details of the proposed investments. Ambassador Asad Durrani says SUNWAYCO was not a Saudi-backed company and no royal family member was involved. He also disputes that Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz had anything to do with these offers but he says Prince Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz has been investing in Pakistan. The documents in Pakistan Government files, however, mention Prince Sultan Bin Turki and his signatures, genuine or forged, are there on at least three documents. The first detailed SUNWAYCO offer was made in a letter dated Dec 20, 2000 and said in part: "We take this opportunity to introduce our group as investors from Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries including overseas Pakistanis, headed by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, under the name of International Islamic Development Trust (IIDT) incorporated under the laws of Bahamas with the base capital of US$ 3.8 billion." (Click to view the image




"The Trust activities include diverse economic fields but mainly it helps and assists in the social and infrastructure development sectors and human development particularly in the Muslim developing countries," the letter said, disclosing that "IIDT has already budgeted for an initial investment of $1 billion in Pakistan during the next 12 months with a firm commitment for further investments in different mega projects in years to come. We have already approached the concerned authorities.." it said, giving details of the four sectors and the expected investment totaling over $9 billion. IIDT has already approved an initial financing of $200 million and $100 million as a soft term loan for the Islamabad New City Project. The money is available for immediate dispersal, the letter said.

The Board of Investment responded to the offer on Jan 2, 2001 saying the proposals were being sent to different ministries for consultations and when their views are available, the BOI will revert to you.(Click to view the image). URL:

A copy of the proposals was faxed to the Pakistan Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Lt. General (Retd) Asad Durrani, a former head of Pakistan's infamous Inter-Services intelligence agency, the ISI. That is when the trouble for the Saudis began.

On Jan 15, 2001, Gen Asad Durrani sent a letter to the Board of Investment writing, inter alia, that the Prince's company was fake and "cannot be entrusted responsibility for huge projects for which it has shown interest."

The Durrani letter was a bomb shell for many and only he knows why he kicked out proposals for billions of dollars of investment, dismissing the company as fake. The written reason Durrani gave for his judgment was that "the company is not known in business circles of Saudi Arabia, the phone numbers given do not belong to it, and faxes sent to the prince have remained unanswered." (Click to view the image). URL:

Later talking to the SA Tribune on phone from Riyadh on Tuesday, July 23, 2002, Gen. Durrani confirmed that he had blocked the offer as it looked suspicious with apparently no connection to the Saudi Royal Family. He said two Pakistanis met him in connection with the proposed investments but he found them to be suspicious and could not believe they were able to invest billions of dollars in Pakistan. "Straightaway, whenever someone comes and gives you such a project, you should get suspicious...If I were to go and make these claim that I want to invest 12billion dollars, people will throw me out of the room, I suppose," General Durrani said. (Click to hear Interview). On Jan 20, 2001 the Board of Investment issued a letter saying in view of Gen. Durrani's comments, the Saudi investments "chapter should be closed."

The Saudis were enraged, so say the least, and felt embarrassed and insulted. But in Pakistani files a letter of Prince Sultan is available which appears to be another desperate attempt to revive the project. This letter is addressed strangely enough to the then Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, Lt. General Maqbool, now Governor of Punjab province, with copies to Gen. Musharraf's office and Board of Investment. In this letter dated March 7, 2001, the Prince wrote that the IIDT had already started work on the oil refinery while the purchase of Habib Bank was under negotiations. (Click to view the image) URL:

The letter emphasized that IIDT was ready for final negotiations and urged the NAB Chairman to complete these negotiations "under your personal auspices" at the earliest. Why was an accountability bureau chief being asked to take over the investment portfolio is not only mysterious but unexplained.

Nothing happened on the Pakistani side, though.

On May 21, 2001 SUNWAYCO, the lead company for the Islamabad city project, rejected as "fake" by Ambassador Asad Durrani, sent a five-page letter to the Chairman, Board of Investment, with copies to Finance, Interior and Housing Ministers, General Musharraf's Chief of Staff, now late Gen Ghulam Ahmed, Chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other officials.

This letter accused General Durrani of sabotaging their proposals and gave some more details of what had been going on behind the scenes. ( Click to view the image pg:1 pg:2 pg:3 pg:4 pg:5 ). It for the first and last time mentioned the name of Prince Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz, saying he had already visited Pakistan along with a representative of IIDT/IIDC.





It also revealed that:

The IIDT was invited to invest in Pakistan by Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz. IIDT had approved an initial $1 billion and another $1.5 billion for investment. Concerned Pak Government authorities have been seriously negotiating with representatives of IIDT/IIDC and various delegations have exchanged visits. A representative of IIDT, Mr Al Riyatti was included in the delegation of Saudi Prince Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz. Describing SUNWAYCO as a fake company was a malicious statement and it is libel under international law for a compensation exceeding billions of dollars. The immediate inflow of $300 million in these projects has been stopped. A formal apology to Prince Sultan was demanded from the Government of Pakistan. But the letter still kept the doors open and suggested some remedies including a visit of the Board of Investment Chairman to Saudi Arabia and eliminating the role of the Pak Ambassador in Saudi Arabia in any future dealings which, it proposed, should be done through the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad and directly with the office of Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, whose telephone numbers and contacts were given.

An application was also filed with Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan on May 21, 2001 to incorporate SUNWAYCO in Pakistan.

The Islamabad address of the Saudi company in Sector F-10 was said to be a huge office until around May of 2001. A visit to that office this week by our correspondent Rauf Klasra showed there was nothing there any more. "I went there in the afternoon on Tuesday, July 23, 2002, and found the house (office) closed. Neighbours told me that a big office was opened a couple of years ago but had been closed for more than a year. There was no sign board, no name plate, or anything indicating any Saudi presence in that house. Repeated ringing of door bell to confirm whether someone was inside produced no response," he reported. "Everybody appears to have evaporated into thin air."
All this has raised a number of questions, which remain unanswered. Among them:

Why did the former ISI Chief Gen Durrani summarily dismiss the offer as fake. Did he have some special background of the company or the people behind it? He says the looks of the executives of the company, who were Pakistanis and not Saudis, were suspicious. Can a government make judgments about investment proposals sent in writing on mere looks of some people?
Who really is Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz? There is no detail available on any Saudi site. He is said to be a close relation of the long time Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz. Does it mean it was some kind of a Saudi intelligence scheme to pump in money into Pakistan and take control of strategic assets like a major bank, a whole city where any number of people could stay and take shelter, a five-star hotel to keep VIPs, a front business like an oil refinery? The Ambassador says Prince Sultan Bin Turki was not involved. Then why have all the government files letters signed by him and correspondence in his name.
Why did General Pervez Musharraf write a letter to Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz, if he was not the person involved. Why not send a letter to Prince Sultan Bin Nasir, who did visit Pakistan later? Who misled Musharraf and what game was going on? The Ambassador says the other Prince, Sultan Bin Nasir, was interested in investments, but his name does not figure on any file or in the proposals made by IIDT/IIDC or SUNWAYCO. Was he then in the picture or was he trying to hide his name for fear of exposure or some other reason?
Was something going on between General Musharraf and the Saudis to create a huge joint infrastructure that could be used later for any other purpose? Why were the Saudis, or people using their name and identities, so keen to pump in money and then suddenly disappeared? Was it all connected to terrorism or terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan and in the US?

Following is the transcript of the interview of Lt. General (Retd) Asad Durrani, Pakistan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia with Shaheen Sehbai, Editor, South Asia Tribune, on Tuesday, July 23, 2002 about suspicious Saudi investment plans in Pakistan. The interview was in English, but was mixed with Urdu language in some places:

SS: Last year, some time around March/April, the Government of Pakistan decided, and that was on the basis of one of your comments, that this (Saudi) company was not genuine. The Government closed the whole project and they said this matter is closed..

AD: Yes, there was one company which did not belong to any of the princes. About that, I had said look we cannot find out anything about that company here.

SS: Sunwayco..

AD: Apparently that company had their headquarters in Switzerland..

SS: Probably in Monaco…

AD: That's the only thing that I remember, the rest, Prince Sultan Bin Nasir and others, they are very genuine people.

SS: Have there been any investments in the last one year or two by these people in Pakistan?

AD: I think there have been plenty of investments in the last year and a half. If you are interested, you can always send your contact number and fax and one will dig out all the details.

SS: (Did these investments include) any of these big projects they were talking about like buying the Habib Bank or setting up a Islamabad (New city).

AD: No, on that, I don't think anything final has been done, I think these negotiations take a long time, I suppose.

SS: What is the position of Prince Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Turki, is he fairly high in the royal family?

AD: Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz, and this name has no "Turki" anywhere.

SS: But the papers that we have show Prince "Turki" is also there.

AD: I would suggest to you not to depend on the papers, because it confuses the source, it confuses the name, it confuses the project. But, you know, we have to live with this environment, I suppose. Sultan Bin Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz, that means he is the direct descendant of King Abdul Aziz.

SS: One of your letters was about a company named Sunwayco…

AD: Oh, yes yes, that is the one we were told that is based in Geneva and we found out they had some representatives here but they were "airy fairy."

SS: And that was the company. Probably they were trying to make those proposals in Pakistan. Later, they wrote a protest letter too to the Government of Pakistan…

AD: That's correct, when you talk of Sunwayco, that is correct. Sunwayco, Switzerland, as far as I know, there was no prince involved in it. The two gentlemen, who were here, were also not Saudis who came to see me.

SS: They were Pakistanis probably, the letters had Pakistani names like Sohail Akhtar and..

AD: He never came to us, their Pakistani representative never came to us.

SS: Why have they been using the name of the prince, because his name is (everywhere).

AD: I suppose, I don't know why they did that exactly, you can probably ask them but I was not told the name of the prince.

SS: President General Musharraf also wrote a letter to Prince Sultan Bin Turki Bin Abdul Aziz regarding cooperation and then he replied back. Things were going back and forth.

AD: I really would not know about that.

SS: But basically what the story is saying…

AD: When you refer to Sultan Bin Turki's name, then I get confused and I don't know what case you are talking about. I am not aware of that..

SS: But the whole case, they say, is because, you wrote a letter, you wrote about Sunwayco, that's very clear in your letter.

AD: I definitely wrote about Sunwayco that we have no information about this company. Here in Saudia, we have no information and we could not trace out this company. You better ask Switzerland where this company is based. After that, these two gentlemen did come to me and told me that were the (Sunwayco) representatives, how could you state that we don't exist. So, those two gentlemen came but I was not convinced. To me it was something not interesting really.

SS: They were asking for fairly huge projects, if you total their proposed investment, it was something close to 8-9 billion dollars.

AD: Straightaway, whenever someone comes and gives you such a project, you should get suspicious.

SS: Something was suspicious because 8-9 billion dollars, like 4 billions dollars for a city near Islamabad, 3-4 billion dollars in Habib Bank, another 2 billion in an oil refinery, that was huge money. It has never been done before.

AD: If I were to go and make these claim that I want to invest 12 billion dollars, people will throw me out of the room, I suppose.



The Saudis Respond to Bugging Story: Pakistanis Still Mum Special SAT Report Issue No 65, Nov 2-8, 2003 ISSN:1684-2057
ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia has finally reacted to the South Asia Tribune report that the suites of Crown Prince Abdullah were bugged in Islamabad and that the Saudis had detected the bugging. But the Saudi response, coming almost a week after the report was published by SA Tribune and then by several international newspapers, raises more questions than it answers. The Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad, Ali Awadh Asseri, when contacted by an Islamabad newspaper “The News” described the report as “irresponsible”. "Such irresponsible reporting has its own motives and objectives,” the ambassador told “The News” while commenting on the report.

But then he immediately went into the diplomatic mode and said: “Let me assure you that nothing in the whole world can affect traditional historical ties between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” The implication either was that the bugging could not affect the historical ties or may be its reporting did not. The ambassador was quoted as saying: “This irresponsible report did not reflect the historical trust existing among the two countries and the two nations. The love and affection demonstrated by the Government of Pakistan during Crown prince visit showed what the visit meant to them.” "What we saw in Pakistan during the visit---the genuine love was unprecedented," Ambassador Asseri said.

This was the total comment of the Saudi Ambassador but “The News” also quoted an un-named Saudi source, who said the report was “an attempt only aimed at the derangement of the historical relations between the Kingdom of SA and the brotherly country of Pakistan.” "The current relations between the two countries are based on a stable principle and transparency in dealing with every matter between the two countries which does not need from either side to resort to such acts that are mentioned by those who are prejudiced,” un-named source was quoted as saying.

"The Kingdom of SA while stressing the falsehood of this story reaffirms that it does not pay any attention to this matter and that its trust in its brotherly Pakistan is bigger than any attempt from someone to harm it or influence it," the un-named source said. Though the Saudi response came a week after the story was published, interestingly there has been absolutely no reaction from the Pakistani officials. Highly placed sources in the Pakistani police, however, again confirmed to the SA Tribune that the incident did take place and the Saudis were very angry about it all. But the sources said the Pakistani officials were not issuing any official statement as they did not want to convey to the Saudis what may be perceived as “public lies or misstatements” about something the Saudis knew well was true. Amusingly the statement of the Saudi Ambassador in Islamabad was published only in Islamabad and the same correspondent who filed the story and who also reports for the English language newspaper, The Saudi Gazette, published in Jeddah, did not either file the story to his Saudi newspaper, or they did not use it.


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