ISLAMABAD, Oct 18: A payment of over Rs800 million as compensation to the Raisani family by the Balochistan government has prompted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to examine the legal status of the transaction.
A senior official at the NAB head office said the bureau was aware of the release of the money to Nawabzada Haji Lashkari Raisani, younger brother of Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, in August last year. The then provincial chief secretary had opposed the decision.
“Since the Raisanis claim they have received Rs817.038 million as compensation against property damage under a Balochistan High Court decision, NAB’s legal experts are busy determining if the court has in so many words ruled that the payment be made. Because according to then chief secretary Nasir Mahmood Khosa, no existing government rule allows such compensation in private disputes and, therefore, he didn’t allow the payment, which was later made possible by his successor,” said the official.
Mr Khosa’s assertion was also supported by the provincial law and revenue departments.
A provincial NAB officer said the bureau had yet to receive any formal complaint against the transaction. “Since the matter involves the family of the sitting chief minister, we can only start a formal probe once the NAB chairman orders.”
Lashkari Raisani, a sitting PPP Senator, received a cheque for Rs817.038 million in August last year from the provincial government in compensation for property damage that his family had suffered under the military regime of General Musharraf.
The Raisanis moved the BHC in 2002 against their rivals, the Rind family, accusing the latter of damaging their ancestral homes, lands, archaeological sites, libraries and crops in Mithri area of Bolan in connivance with the then provincial government and military authorities.
The court disposed of the petition and ordered the administration to protect the life and property of the petitioners.
The petitioners filed two contempt applications – one in Feb 2005 and the other in July 2007 – saying the court’s order for their protection was not being implemented.
A divisional bench of the BHC, headed by Chief Justice Amanullah Yasinzai, took up the applications in Nov 2008 and constituted a committee comprising officials from all provincial departments to asses the damage. The court observed that despite several directives, the property of the petitioners was not protected.
The bench issued a detailed judgment on Nov 25, 2008, which said: “We have gone through the report and in our considered view inaction on the part of the provincial government officials to protect persons and property of petitioners despite the directions of this court was also contributory to the damages suffered by the petitioner and his family. However, it is for the government to assess actual damage sustained by the petitioner and his family may be compensated in accordance with law.”
After that a summary was moved by the provincial board of revenue to the chief secretary’s office for implementation of the verdict.
In his note then chief secretary Nasir Khosa contended that government rules did not allow any direct payment to the petitioner.
In a letter dated April 16, 2009, Mr Khosa, who is now Chief Secretary of Punjab, also noted that the losses suffered by the petitioner were the result of alleged criminal acts of private respondents. “Admittedly, there was personal enmity/dispute between the applicant and the private respondent and the government couldn’t be deemed liable for compensating the applicant for damage suffered by the petitioner at the hands of individuals.”
Mr Khosa said the court had ordered that the compensation be made to the petitioners in accordance with the law. But there was no law to make such compensation, he added. He also questioned the provincial government’s lack of willingness to contest the court ruling which, according to him, could have been challenged.
When Ahmad Bakhsh Lehri replaced Mr Khosa as chief secretary, Lashkari Raisani served a legal notice on the provincial government in May 2009 for implementation of the BHC decision.
Surprisingly, this time all provincial departments fell in line and approved the compensation payment, which was eventually released on Aug 16 last year.
Mr Lehri, who is currently working as federal secretary for national food and security, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Talking to Dawn, Senator Lashkari Raisani said it was the BHC which had set up the committee to assess the damage and directed the provincial government to make the payment.
Mr Raisani has of late developed some differences with the PPP leadership and resigned from his Senate seat, but the party is yet to accept his resignation.
He accused Balochistan’s former governor Ameerul Mulk Mengal, then Corps Commander of Quetta Lt-Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, who is a sitting MNA of the PML-N, and former federal minister Yaar Mohammad Rind of causing irreparable losses to his family and tribe.
“We have got only one-third of the losses my family suffered at the hands of our enemies supported by the former military regime,” he said.
He rejected a perception that his elder brother, Chief Minister Raisani, had made the payment possible. He said his opponents raised the issue time and again for political gains.
Gen Qadir Baloch said the bloody feud between the Raisanis and the Rinds was well known in Balochistan. “For decades both these tribes have been involved in killing each others’ men. Given opportunities, they also hurt each other’s economic interests.”
He added: “As Corps Commander of Quetta, in 2002, I had nothing to do with Raisanis’ property damage because during that time the army was never called in for assistance to the civilian government. At that time, Governor Ameerul Mulk was in complete charge of the provincial affairs. If the Raisanis have any issue, Mr Mulk is still alive and they should move court against him instead of pointing fingers at me.”
Gen Qadir said if government officials were involved in the release of compensation money against rules, they should be held responsible.