24 October, 2014 / 28 Zilhaj, 1435
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique. — File Photo
Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: If a federal minister is to be believed he intends to send a retired army general and former railways minister behind bars for causing a severe haemorrhage of the institution.

Painting a bleak picture of the state of railways in the National Assembly on Friday, Khwaja Saad Rafique said the organisation had been bleeding profusely since 2000 at the hands of its managers and at present it was literally on a ‘life support system’.

He lashed out at retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi for triggering collapse of the Pakistan Railways in 2002 as its minister and said he was waiting for the appointment of a new chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file cases against the general.

“We have done the homework and the moment a new NAB chairman, whose appointment is due, takes charge, we will bring all those, including Gen Qazi, to the dock for causing irrevocable losses to the organisation,” Mr Rafique said.

It may be mentioned here that Gen Qazi and a number of PR officials were accused of being involved in the controversial leasing of railways land in Lahore to a private company which built a golf. A special parliamentary committee of the previous National Assembly had recommended filing of criminal cases against people involved in the leasing of the land. According to the findings of the committee, the deal caused losses of over Rs25 billion.

“Until now many officials of the PR have served sentences for their part in its mismanagement, and some are serving, but so far none of the big guns has been held accountable,” Mr Rafique said, adding that time had come to bring them to book. “I will not spare anybody.”

The minister was replying to lawmakers’ questions about how soon the government would be able to bring some improvement in the operations of the railways which over the years had severely deteriorated.

“At the moment the entire fleet the PR locomotives have completed their shelf lives and one can well imagine how trains are being managed,” he said.

The PR is running 96 passenger trains in the country and at least during the current financial year the government can’t afford to start any new train due to shortage of engines.

About a deal for importing 75 locomotives from China signed by the PPP government, the minister said not only had the contract been cancelled but the Chinese company had also been blacklisted.

“It was the same company which provided 69 faulty engines in 2002. Notwithstanding the Chinese government’s pressure, I have also through the Foreign Office filed a claim of Rs2.5bn against the company.”

Sharing details of how the PR had suffered because of sheer ineptitude of its former bosses, Mr Rafique said: “I got the shock of my life when I was told that the director general (legal) of the PR is not a law graduate.”

He said the ministry was hiring a former high court judge as director of legal affairs to retrieve its land from illegal occupants.

He said the railways had suffered a loss of Rs32bn in 2012-13, which he hoped would be curtailed because he had recently managed to put about 10 redundant locomotives back on the tracks after maintenance. The PR also has to repay loans of Rs71bn.

The minister said in a written answer that the railways owned 167,690 acres of land which, if put to use, could be of great help in ending its losses.


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Comments (21) Closed


aamir
Aug 31, 2013 08:44am

better to invest in railways, few billions are nothing..we are already on path of making the Chinese economic corridor..link it with railways..integrate Railways in it..PR is stiil quite better and this i am saying after being a regular traveller on it for decades.. dont leave sheikh Rasheed out of it ..he always want someone who likes salajeet...he is the man behind the Chinese engines..and lt gen zafar retd too; he started a train running between Sambrial - Rawalpidi simply omitting Sialkot.

Danial
Aug 31, 2013 09:22am

My salute to Saad if this is not just another case of rhetorics. What I can see is that the corruption will find a way to defend itself and could be very bad if the crooks involved try to go after him. He should not reveal his plans. All the planning should be kept under wraps and strike when the right opportunity comes along. My two cents to honest people and that is to work intelligently and protect yourself first.

m.a.salimi
Aug 31, 2013 09:26am

Khawaja is him self is a land mafia,he is a co owner of Paragone housing society on barki road.Khawaja and his partners like nadeem and others had commited fraud with every overseas Pakistani,who bought plot in paragone housing society including myself.they had sold billions of rupees worth plots and still holding their money. Its a shame to have a person like khawaja to be a minister in Pakistan.These criminal,land mafia peoples should be hanged in public,they are shame for Pakistan.

newjersy usa

Bobby_Danger
Aug 31, 2013 09:27am

Someone should make a website and document all cases of corruption and make that public. How can a chinese compnay deliver so many bad locomotive engines? What was the warranty policy and it should be in the contract to provide support for certain part of the engine life. Was the first article inspection done properly, what were the terms and conditions of such a huge contract? How can a Chinese company get away with this? If is entirely possible that used product was bought in the guise of new locomotives. Before we blame any Chinese company we should get all the facts.

Malik
Aug 31, 2013 11:03am

Wish you good luck Saad Rafique, we hope that with your spirit and patriotism you will bring the PR back on track and take PR to the highest level and portray our country as one of the best rail system in the region. it used to feel bleeding to see teh state of affairs by previous government whose priority was to fill own pockets. and remarks from US etc on PR used to hurt every sensible citizen of the country. We wish you great luck and hope Pakistan in general and PR in particular will be back on track and will will lifeline for every citizen in the country......Well Done.. bring bilour and his GOD FATHERS also to book..

syed wasim haider
Aug 31, 2013 11:08am

i have great hopes in Mr. Saad Rafique that he will overturn Pakistan Railway and become another Laaloo Prashad. He should emphasis on Cargo revenue, make discount on overnight, holidays and weekends booking. This is a big challenge and I wish he will do it

Omar
Aug 31, 2013 11:18am

half of the minister's comments are about acres of land....is pak railway a property management company and is this how he intends to turn around instead of fixing the core issue...???

aslam minhas
Aug 31, 2013 11:59am

The retd general was instrumental in destroying the railways by not following the tender procedures and by buying the faulty engines. I remember the secretary railways had openly stated before PAC that the general was responsible for making suspicious deals; he procured engines and then had to cut off the platforms to make adjustments for them. It is time he is nabbed. It happened under Musharraf watch and he would/should have known it. May be he was part of it. An investigative journslist is carrying a brief-case full of evidence against Musharraf and his PM Shauket Aziz but no one cares!

M Rafique
Aug 31, 2013 12:07pm

Mr. Minister, it is doubtful you will keep your words

fida sayani
Aug 31, 2013 02:57pm

Recently some lovers of Pakistan Army have demanded that clean up operation of Karachi be given to Army. Imagine the General who will lead the operation is some one like General Kazi. All hell will break loose and Karachi will be in greater chaos.

Ishrat salim
Aug 31, 2013 02:58pm

And what about the last minister of Railways...Mr Bilour...he was an angel ? was he also not responsible for its deterioration ? Why Mr Bilour is not being mentioned ? Or bcz he was a politician and hence, cannot do wrong ? one politician saving another...a new understanding.....

Syedz
Aug 31, 2013 03:52pm

Good luck. Tough task ahead. It is high time not to compromise and take all decisions on merit. Upholding of merit is utmost important.

Mustafa
Aug 31, 2013 03:58pm

The Railways are a good scrap material for the Sharif steel mills.

Uza Syed
Aug 31, 2013 04:13pm

Railways minister Khwaja Saad Rafique says that his ministry " was hiring a former high court judge as director of legal affairs to retrieve its land from illegal occupants." which is good, but it is not so good if his name is Khwaja Sharif who retied from Lahore High Court and claims to be faithful and loyal to the well known family of the PM Sharif & CM Sharif.

Jaihind
Aug 31, 2013 05:14pm

What stops the minister from contacting Indian Railways and get valuable inputs as to how to improve its PR and get some locomotives along with some knowledge and skills of the Indian Railway executives. Would it not help to alleviate suffering of poor passengers and win confidence of each other in the countries involved. Keep aside blame game and start improving the economy of each other and strive towards betterment. Things would automatically fall in place.

mansoor
Sep 01, 2013 04:13pm

"The minister said in a written answer that the railways owned 167,690 acres of land which, if put to use, could be of great help in ending its losses". To me this is the most important information. I am sitting on a gold mine, contact me if you want plots to build plazas, golf clubs.

khanm
Sep 01, 2013 05:21pm

Action speaks louder than words. It is only words, words they only have

azmat Shah
Sep 02, 2013 02:03pm

@Uza Syed: Absoluetly spot on

Muhammad Saleem
Sep 02, 2013 03:51pm

Nobody really wants to do anything about railways, it is all pep talk . Time for some real action Khaja sahib, where there is a will there is a way.

khan
Sep 02, 2013 05:56pm

Instead of going after your political opponents,do something to improve the situation if you are really sincere.If things dont get better then there is no difference between you and them.Enough is enough.Every new government comes and what they do is start talking against their predecessors,and things gets worse.For God's sake have some SHARAM,and KHUDA KA KHAUF.I am controlling my language here.

BKH norwood
Sep 02, 2013 06:13pm

The reason for the PR becoming a baggage is because the political leadership of Pakistan lacks potential of reasoning in all required of management.

One does not have to have a law degrees to apply common sense when making decisions.

The Minister may not have a Law Degree to have become a Minister. .