LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday ordered the forensic audit of alleged irregularities in the Rs20 billion Pakistan Kidney and Liver Transplant Institute (PKLI) project.

He was heading a two-member bench hearing suo motu case of the alleged irregularities in PKLI.

The chief justice barred the head of the institute Dr Saeed Akhtar from traveling abroad without the court’s permission.

The bench inquired from Dr Akhtar about the details of expenditure of Rs20bn allocated for the institution.

The CJP remarked that no one would be allowed to escape the process of accountability. “Hiring doctors on salaries as high as Rs1.2 million, that’s how you serve your country?” the CJP said.

While pointing out the irregularities in the construction process, the CJP stated that even the finest construction was done at the rate of 3,000 per square feet but PKLI got it done at 10,100 per square feet.

“Should we not summon former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif to witness the situation here?” the CJP said while adding, “This is not a kingdom that would be run on the orders from the king. Everyone has to go through strict accountability and those responsible for the corruption will be punished.”

Dr Akhtar tried to justify his appointment and said that he enjoyed unblemished career, untainted by any corruption and Shahbaz Sharif had nothing to do with the salaries of PKLI employees.

The apex court ordered submission of complete forensic report of the institution’s expenses in three weeks duration.

The institution came under fire in March after comparisons were drawn between salaries and perks of doctors who worked at the other government hospitals and those at the PKLI. The CJP had expressed anger at the gap between their salaries.

During a hearing on March 24, the CJP had said the doctors called from abroad were paid a hefty sum, while the local ones were given only small amounts.

The chief justice had remarked the PKLI was an institute which hired foreign doctors, asking what was the fault of doctors performing duties earnestly at the government hospitals.

He had observed that the government hospital doctors should also be paid high salaries so that they did not have to do practice illegally, and could perform their duties honestly.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2018

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