ISLAMABAD: The Nat­ional Accountability Bureau (NAB) has asked the Ministry of Interior to place names of former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, who served as the railways minister during the military regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf, and two others on the Exit Control List (ECL) as they are required to be investigated in a corruption reference.

Besides that of Mr Qazi, the interior ministry has been asked to place names of former marketing director of the Pakistan Railways, Khalid Naqi, and director of the Hasnain Construction Company, Ramzan Sheikh, on the ECL for their alleged involvement in the over Rs2 billion corruption in award of a contract on railways land.

“It is alleged that the accused persons in connivance with each other illegally awarded the contract/lease of 140 acres land of Railways Golf Club, Lahore, which caused huge loss of Rs2.16bn [approximately] to the national exchequer,” says the NAB letter that recommended the placement of the names of the three persons on the ECL.

NAB has now decided to reopen the corruption reference against four former senior army officers, including Javed Ashraf Qazi, 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’s 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.

After a meeting of officials, a NAB spokesman had stated that it had authorised filing of a reference against the former railways minister, former railways chairman retired Lt Gen Saeed-uz-Zafar, former GM retired Maj Gen Hamid Hassan Butt, former railways member retired Brig Akhtar Ali Baig, former general manager Iqbal Samad Khan, former member Khursheed Ahmed Khan, former director Abdul Ghaffar, former superintendent Mohammad Ramzan Sheikh; director of the Husnain Construction Company, Pervaiz Latif Qureshi; Chief Executive of the Unicon Consulting Services, Datu Mohammad Bin Kasa Bin Adda Aziz; Director of Max Corp. Development, Malaysia, and others for misuse of authority and causing losses to national exchequer.”

However, there is no mention of the names of other accused in the letter that was written by NAB’s deputy director Tayyab Anwar to the concerned official of the interior ministry.

Retired Lt Gen Qazi served as director general of the ISI and retired Lt Gen Saeed-uz-Zafar is 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, had 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 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.

Interestingly, a similar request by NAB to place names of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other members of his family on the ECL was not been entertained by the interior minister, who reportedly said the bureau had not mentioned any specific reason for the move.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2018