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Under-fire Azam Swati resigns to face NAB case

December 07, 2018

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FEDERAL Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan at the PM Office on Thursday.—INP
FEDERAL Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan at the PM Office on Thursday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: A prominent case of misuse of authority allegedly committed by Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati took a new turn on Thursday when he resigned from his office soon after meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Mr Swati is the second member of the federal cabinet to have left his office to face National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases in the recent past. Earlier in September, the prime minister’s adviser on legal affairs, Babar Awan, resigned in the wake of a corruption reference filed against him by NAB for his alleged involvement in an inordinate delay in the construction of the Nandipur power plant causing a sharp increase in its cost.

Former secretary general of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Tareen had to quit after having been disqualified by the Supreme Court for concealing his assets.

Former minister accused of being involved in transfer of Islamabad IG, illegally occupying state land

Some other top PTI leaders are also facing NAB cases. They include Prime Minister Imran Khan, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Punjab minister Abdul Aleem Khan, special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, aka Zulfi Bukhari, and PM’s principal secretary Azam Khan.

According to the Prime Minister Office, Azam Sawti resigned after a meeting with PM Khan.

Mr Swati is accused of being involved in the transfer of former Islamabad inspector general Jan Mohammad and of illegally occupying a state land adjacent to his farmhouse in the federal capital.

“In order to uphold my moral authority, I sent my resignation to the PM as I cannot work under these circumstances,” Mr Swati said, adding that now he could defend his case in a stronger manner.

Interestingly, Mr Swati resigned from his office a day after Prime Minister Khan met Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar in the Supreme Court. The apex court, which had taken notice of Mr Swati’s alleged misuse of power, had hinted at proceeding against him under Article 62 of the Constitution before forming a joint investigation team to probe the case.

The apex court had formed the JIT on Nov 19 and held Mr Swati and his employees responsible for an altercation with a family of slum dwellers at his farmhouse that allegedly led to the transfer of the Islamabad police chief.

The IG was transferred soon after Mr Swati’s son had registered a case against the slum dwellers for trespassing on his farmhouse and five people, including two women, were arrested after they were beaten up by Mr Swati’s guards. However, they were released after a day’s detention following a settlement between the minister and the detained family.

The JIT in its report held Azam Swati responsible for “illegally” occupying the state land and forcing the Islamabad police chief to step down. It stated that the inquiry against Mr Swati was linked to the situation that arose after the minister’s son had a case registered against a neighbouring family.

The report, which has not been released publicly, also raised questions over the transfer of the IG by the government in the aftermath of the altercation.

The Supreme Court had also directed the JIT to probe alleged misconduct on the part of Mr Swati, besides examining the minister and his children’s assets and tax payments.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2018

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