ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry has placed the name of former minister for railways retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi on the Exit Control List (ECL).

Informed sources told Dawn that the names of railways’ former chairman retired Lt Gen Saeed-uz-Zafar, former general manager retired Maj Gen Hamid Hasan Butt and former member retired Brig Akhtar Ali Baig had also been put on the ECL at the request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

They are accused of illegally transferring 140 acres of prime railway land in Lahore to a Malaysian firm during the Musharraf government in 2001 for development of a golf course called Royal Palms Gold and Country Club at throwaway rates, causing a loss of about Rs2.16 billion to the national exchequer. The Islamabad High Court had last week ruled that retired military officers could not hide behind the army’s accountability process.

NAB has now decided to reopen the corruption reference against the four retired senior army officers, including Javed Ashraf Qazi. The reference remained dumped for more than a decade due to the anti-graft watchdog’s reluctance to act against the military officers.

A spokesman for the bureau had said that a meeting of NAB officials had authorised the filing of a reference against retired Lt Gen Ashraf Qazi, retired Lt Gen Zafar, retired Maj Gen Hamid Butt, retired Brig Akhtar Baig, railways’ former general manager Iqbal Samad Khan, former member Khursheed Ahmed Khan, former director Abdul Ghaffar and former superintendent Mohammad Ramzan Sheikh, as well as Husnain Construc­tion Com­pany director Pervaiz Latif Qureshi, the chief executive of Unicon Consul­ting Ser­vices, the director of Max Corp Development, Malay­sia, and others for misuse of authority and causing huge losses to the national exchequer.

Lt Gen Qazi served as director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Lt Gen Zafar as Peshawar corps commander. Interes­tingly, the 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 had on Sept 14, 2012 called for cancelling the controversial agreement, holding a fresh bidding for the land and taking strict disciplinary action against the former bosses of railways, including the retired generals, who had endorsed the agreement.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2018