Islamabad: Pakistan's Pakistan People's Party-led government withdrew a whopping Rs 270 million from the secret fund of the Intelligence Bureau, allegedly for pushing its "political agenda" against the ruling PML-N in Punjab province, a media report said on Wednesday.
    
The PPP allegedly used the funds to influence loyalties of lawmakers in Punjab and the exercise reached its peak in the lead up to and during the imposition of Governor's Rule in the country's most populous province in 2009 the intelligence sources said.
   
Though the PPP wanted to try to form its own government in Punjab, the move was stalled due to some hiccups, including "steep demands" from the PML-Q, which wanted the Punjab Chief Minister's slot.
    
The PML-Q is now part of the PPP-led coalition at the centre.
   
Classified documents made available to a daily showed that such a huge amount had never been withdrawn from the secret fund of the Intelligence Bureau in such a short span of time, the report said.
   
According to regulations, the purpose of the secret fund is only to obtain sensitive information necessary to protect the "national interest" and the money cannot be used for any other purpose, including emergencies or incidental expenses.
   
All withdrawals from the fund have to come under specific heads and justifications.
   
This was not the case with the large withdrawal by the federal government, the report said.
   
The Intelligence Bureau works under the supervision of the Prime Minister and the agency's head is directly answerable to the Premier.
     
The issue of the withdrawal of money first came to light when Shoaib Suddle was made the Director General of the IB.
     
Suddle admitted the withdrawal of the amount but told the daily that he had personally informed the Premier regarding the case.
     
After assuming charge in 2008, Suddle was informed about the withdrawal of a large chunk of the Intelligence Bureau’s secret fund, initially believed to be Rs 920 million.
     
However, a probe revealed the actual amount withdrawn was Rs 270 million.
   
When he took over, Suddle brought the discrepancies to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's notice. However, Gilani chose to remain silent, the daily quoted its sources as saying.

Samiullah Khan, the PPP secretary general for Punjab, said the funds were probably obtained by individuals and were not transferred to the party's funds.
   
He said if the secret funds were used for the purposes alleged by sources, the PPP would have established a government in Punjab but it had been unable to do so. "Legal action should be taken against whichever politician took funds from the IB or ISI, regardless of their party affiliation," Khan said.
   
Khan said a case regarding the funding of politicians by the ISI is being heard by the Supreme Court and the time has come to link all these matters.
   
Both politicians and intelligence officials should be exposed so that such practices are not repeated, he said. Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said various departments and agencies have special or secret funds and they can utilise this money according to their mandate.
   
He said if any agency used funds contrary to its charter and without any accountability, it could be considered "absolutely wrong". He said, "Without looking at the report, I am not in a position to further comment on this matter."
    
This is not the first time that the PPP has been accused of using the Intelligence Bureau's secret funds. During Benazir Bhutto's first government in 1989, Rs 95.5 million from the secret fund was used for various purposes, the daily quoted classified documents as saying.
   
The money was allegedly siphoned off for political payments and withdrawn on the orders of the Prime Minister's Secretariat, the report said.

(Agencies)