PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Monday claimed that the National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had cleared him of the illegal Malam Jabba land lease charge.
The claim came after he appeared before a combined investigation team of the NAB, KP, looking into the alleged illegal award of lease of forest land to a company in Malam Jabba, Swat.
The NAB had issued a call-up notice to the chief minister under Section 19 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, claiming Mahmood Khan possesses the information related to the alleged crime.
Former chief minister Pervez Khattak, former additional chief secretary (planning and development) Khalid Pervez, managing director Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mushtaq Khan, and some other officials are also facing inquiry in the case.
Appears before bureau, insists has nothing to do with illegal lease award
An official of the NAB said Mahmood Khan was summoned in his capacity as the provincial minister for sports, culture and tourism in the previous provincial government of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf led by Pervez Khattak.
The chief minister later told reporters that he told investigators that he even did not remember whether he was the tourism minister at the relevant time or not as he was changed as the irrigation minister.
He said he was neither connected to the Malam Jabba land lease case nor did he know anything about it.
The chief minister said he believed that it would be his only appearance before the NAB team in the case.
“I have nothing to do with the said land as he didn’t sign any document in this regard,” he claimed.
The NAB claimed that the former PTI-led KP government had illegally leased 275 acres of land in Malam Jabba, a tourist resort in Swat district, which belonged to the provincial forest department.
It added that the protected forest could not be used for any other purpose under the KP Forest Ordinance, 2002.
The NAB claimed that initially, the government had to lease out 17 acres of land for the purpose of construction of a hotel and a chairlift project for 15 years but later, it allegedly leased out 275 acres land to a private company for 33 years.
The investigators also summoned KP senior minister Atif Khan in the case. As he is abroad on a visit, he didn’t appear before them.
The KP government rejected the NAB’s claims about Malam Jabba land lease and insisted that a dispute was going on between the forest and tourism departments over the ownership of that land.
It added that the former ruler of Swat State had gifted that land to the government in 1969 for tourism purpose and that the land belonged to tourism department.
The government claimed that in its advertisement issued in March 2014, it had asked the interested parties to express interest in the tourism development and the winning party would be given land measuring 275 acres (five acres for hotel and 270 acres for ski/chairlift) initially for 33 years on lease extendable for 20 years.
Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2018