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‘Bogus case’ made against Axact, FIA official

Axact Karachi

Photo Courtesy: Forbes

March 06, 2020: A senior official of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Friday testified before the Sindh High Court (SHC) that Pakistan’s leading IT company, Axact, had been framed in a bogus case as all its operations remain legal and were being carried out under the license issued by the competent authorities.

The statement was made by the FIA’s Investigation Office (IO) Saeed Ahmed Memon, assigned to probe allegations that Axact sold fake degrees and operated dubious accreditation websites. But after several rounds of hearings and cross-examination, the FIA official concluded that these charges were fabricated.

“Axact is a legal IT and software company,” Memon said before the honourable SHC Judge Justice Rashida Asad.  “All its IT enabled services are legal and working under the license issued by the competent authorities.”

Memon said that the allegations made against Axact were meant to damage the company and taint the image of its top management.

Memon’s testimony, exonerating Axact from any wrongdoing, has come after years of witch-hunting and victimization of its top-management. The unprecedented crackdown on Axact was launched after a US newspaper, The New York Times, published an article against the company in May 2015, accusing it of running a racket of fake degrees.

The local media houses – in a pre-planned manner — echoed the allegations made by The New York Times in an attempt to target Axact’s new venture, the Bol Media Group, which was seen challenging their monopoly.

As a result of this malicious campaign, mere allegations and without any evidence, the former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government forcibly shutdown Axact’s operations and arrested its top management’, including CEO and Chairman Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, who also heads the Bol Media Group. After prolonged legal battles, in which the then government at the behest of its media allies, tried to create one hurdle after another to delay the case, justice finally prevailed and Axact’s top management managed to get out of prison and formally launched its stalled media venture – the Bol Media Group in December 2016.

Before the crackdown, Axact was the number one IT company of Pakistan. In 2014, its exports were hovering well above $355 million, which were more than 80 per cent of the country’s entire IT exports, according to the State Bank of Pakistan figures. However, after Axact’s forced closure, the country’s IT exports tumbled to $55.1 million the very next year.

Legal experts say that never before in Pakistan’s entire history, any business venture was forced to shut down its entire operations after the publication of mere allegations as had happened in the case of Axact.

Axact’s Islamabad offices were sealed within 24 hours after the publication of The New York Times report, while its Karachi head office met the same fate within days as the company’s top management was arrested.

The closure of Axact and the targeting of the Bol Media Group forced thousands of their workers, including journalists, media persons, IT experts and other professionals, to stage a series of protests and demonstrations, which underlined the pro-employees’ policies of the management.

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