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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided on Tuesday to reopen a Rs2 billion corruption reference against four former senior army officers, including an ex-chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence, that remained dumped for more than a decade due to the anti-graft watchdog’s reluctance to act against military officers.

The army officers are accused of transferring tens of hundreds of acres of prime railway land in Lahore to a Malaysian firm during Gen Musharraf regime in 2001 for development of a golf course called Royal Palms Gold and Country Club at throwaway rates.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court held that retired military officers could not hide behind the army’s accountability process.

A NAB spokesman said: “The meeting authorised filing of a reference against former railways minister retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, former railways chairman retired Lt Gen Saeed Uz Zafar, former GM retired Maj Gen Hamid Hassan Butt, former member railways retired Brig Akhtar Ali Baig, former general manager Iqbal Samad Khan, former member Khur­sheed Ahmed Khan, former director Abdul Ghaffar, former superintendent Mohammad Ram­zan Shaikh, Director Husnain Con­s­truction Company, Pervaiz Latif Qureshi, Chief Executive Unicon Consulting Services, Datu Moham­mad Bin Kasa Bin Adda Aziz, Director Max Corp, Development Malaysia and others for misuse of authority and causing over Rs2 billion losses to national exchequer.”

Bureau decides to take action against minister for national health services

Retired Lt Gen Qazi had served as the director general of the ISI and retired Lt Gen Saeed Uz Zafar was a former Peshawar corps commander.

Interestingly, military officials were summoned by NAB in the same case in 2012 for recording their statements but nothing was done against them.

The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly in its meeting on Sept 14, 2012, called for the cancellation of the controversial agreement. It had recommended a fresh bidding for the land and also called for strict disciplinary action against the former bosses of the railways, including the three retired generals, who had endorsed the agreement.

A comprehensive report issued by the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Railways on allotment of land for setting up the club in Lahore had revealed several financial and administrative irregularities and recommended prosecution of all members of the railways executive committee.

The Federal Investigation Agency had started a separate investigation on the special committee’s instruction and its report said 141 acres had been allotted at a nominal price, causing a loss of Rs4.82bn to the national exchequer because the land utilisation charge had been reduced from Rs52.43 to only Rs4 per square yard.

Inquiry against minister

NAB ordered an inquiry against Federal Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar and some officials of her ministry for alleged corruption in different affairs, including registration of private medical collages and fixing of drug prices etc.

The Executive Board Meeting (EBM) presided over by NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal decided on Tuesday to take action against the minister.

“The board authorised complaint verification against President of the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for alleged corruption committed in connivance with Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar in re-organisation of 12 medical colleges and corrupt practices in council’s affairs,” said a handout issued by NAB after the meeting.

In August last year, the PMDC had sent back all 20 applications for establishment of new collages to the Ministry of National Health Services because of gross deficiencies.

Recently, NAB negated a decision of the federal cabinet regarding appointment of a “dead” officer of grade-19 on grade-21post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap).

On Feb 7, the federal cabinet appointed Sheikh Akhtar Hussein as CEO of Drap who declared himself as a “dead man” in two corruption references in 2001 and 2004, apparently to escape in the cases.

Sheikh Hussein is a grade 19 officer of the health ministry but he was given the grade 21 post of CEO of Drap by the federal cabinet.

Some other cases of alleged corruption in the health ministry have also been reported in the media.

On Monday, NAB ordered an inquiry against Housing Minister Akram Durrani for alleged corruption in allotment of plots.

Wapda officers

The NAB EBM approved a reference against former chairman of Wapda Tariq Hameed, former member power Mohammad Anwar Khalid, member water Mohammad Mushtaq, former member finance Imtiaz Anjum and others for misuse of authority and award of contract for 150MW rental power project to General Energy Pvt Limited in violation of rules.

The meeting accorded approval for conducting two separate investigations against former provincial minister Abdul Rauf Siddiqui, Mohammad Adil Siddiqui and Dr Sarvat Fahim, Mushtaq Ali Leghari, Mehmood Ahmed, Ghulam Nabi Mehar, Abdul Haye Dhamra, Syed Imdad Ali Shah, Syed Umeed Ali Shah and others for misuse of authority and causing losses of Rs435 million to the national exchequer.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018