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ISLAMABAD: An accountability court of Islamabad on Wednesday sent a serving and a retired official of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) as well as a contractor to Adiala jail on judicial remand in the Diplomatic Shuttle Service corruption reference.

Accountability judge Mohammad Bashir turned down the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) request seeking a 14-day physical remand of the accused individuals including CDA Director General Ghulam Sarwar Sandhu, former member estate retired Brig Nusratullah and private contractor Mohammad Hussain.

Defence counsel Husnain Kazmi opposed the physical remand of the accused persons and said that they have shared all information on the record with the investigation under custody and that there is nothing they can share further to help the investigators.

He said the investigation agency may interrogate them as and when required.

Accountability court turns down NAB’s request for physical remand

The matter regarding the illegalities in the contract awarded to ply busses in the Diplomatic Enclave for visa applicants was highlighted by the Auditor General of Pakistan in the audit report a few years ago.

Investigation agencies including NAB and the Federal Investigation Agency and various committees had cleared the project earlier.

In 2016, the then director general audit Maqbool Gondal disclosed before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the record related to the Diplomatic Shuttle Service was missing from the CDA’s records. The committee issued directions for the registration of an FIR.

Mr Gondal said the contract was awarded to a company owned by Mohammad Hussain which was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, which shows that CDA officials had actively connived in the illegalities.

The controversial deal for introducing a bus service for visa applicants for more than 40 embassies and foreign missions was done in April 2008.

After the Sept 11 attacks in the US, the government decided to ban the entry of private vehicles into the Diplomatic Enclave and introduced the bus service instead.

Those arrested in the Diplomatic Shuttle Service are facing charges that in Nov 2007, they proposed that Mohammad Hussain may be allowed to develop facilities for visa applicants on a Built, Operate and Transfer basis for five years.

In April 2008, they granted permission to Mohammad Hussain to develop and operate the facilities and reduced the annual ground rent from Rs100 per square yard per annum to Rs2 per square yard per annum.

PAC constituted an inquiry committee to probe the matter, found illegalities in the contract and recommended strict disciplinary action against some CDA officials.

PAC also referred the matter to NAB.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2018

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