-Photo by Shahzad Raza
ISLAMABAD: It was not the ministry of defense or foreign affairs or interior. The ministry that handled the highest amount of secret funds since 2009 was the Ministry of Information Technology (MoIT).
Surprising but true: the MoIT consumed more than Rs3 billion since 2009 under the head of a secret fund, an Auditor General report revealed.
The report read, in the fiscal year of 2009-10, that MoIT was allocated Rs 1.329 billion of secret funds in the federal budget.
In the subsequent year of 2010-11, the same ministry obtained an even higher amount of Rs 1.422 billion.
Interestingly, the secret fund fell down to zero in the subsequent year.
Secretary MoIT, Zafar Qadir, expressed his ignorance over the existence of a secret fund in his ministry.
“I don’t have any information any such thing existed in my ministry. You should better ask my predecessors,” he told Dawn.com.
Official sources said the MoIT was engaged in some concealed projects in Azad Jammu & Kashmir and the purpose of the secret fund was to fulfill the financial requirements without getting into the limelight.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Jawad S Khawja and Justice Khilji Arif is hearing petitions challenging the use of secret fund by the ministry of information.
The petitioners alleged the ministry distributed millions of rupees among selected journalists and media organisations to achieve certain objectives.
On direction of the apex court, the information ministry placed a list of those individuals and organisations which had received money from the secret fund.
As the list was incomplete, the court demanded complete information containing the names of all the recipients.
More than 27 ministries and public departments had secret funds at their disposal.
During the dictatorial regime of General Musharraf, the ministries and department distributed more than Rs7 billion from the secret funds. The Pakistan People’s Party government raised the allocations by Rs1 billion.
The audit documents showed that in just three years (from 2009 to 2012) the government spent around Rs4 billion in the name of secret funds.
The second highest distributor of secret funds was the information ministry that distributed more than Rs260 million in the last three fiscal years.
It was followed by Federally Administered Tribal Areas (more than Rs 238 million), Interior Division (more than Rs 130 million), Civil Armed Forces (more than Rs 70 million), National Accountability Bureau (more than Rs 22 million), etc. in the same period.
A retired federal secretary explained the allocations for secret funds were made in the federal budget within purview of the law.
“The secret funds cannot be scrutinised publicly. If it is done, the purpose of having the secret funds will die,” he added.
In August last year, a report by the Interior Ministry revealed that ‘informers’ in the war against terror were compensated from the secret funds. They were paid a total amount of Rs30 million.
In 2005, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) installed close-circuit cameras to enhance the security at the Prime Minister House.
Surprisingly, the expenditure of Rs5.2 million was met from the IB’s secret fund. The then director general IB had revealed that fact before the Public Accounts Committee.
In May 2011, the Foreign Office conceded before the PAC that it had paid British Labour party MP George Galloway 135,000 Pounds from its secret fund to promote Pakistan’s viewpoint on Indian-held Kashmir.
The writer’s twitter handle is @shahz79