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Ex-ISI chief told to get name off no-fly list by ministry

Updated March 02, 2019

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Accountability court disposes of petition by Javed Ashraf Qazi. — Online/File
Accountability court disposes of petition by Javed Ashraf Qazi. — Online/File

ISLAMABAD: An accountability court disposed of on Friday a petition filed by retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), seeking removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL).

The accountability court asked Mr Qazi to take up the matter with the ministry of interior.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had in April last year filed a reference against Mr Qazi and others in connection with the Royal Palm Golf Club scam case.

Besides Mr Qazi, who also served as federal minister for railways, other accused in the reference include retired Lt Gen Saeeduz Zaman, former secretary and chairman of the Railways Board, retired Maj Gen Hamid Hassan Butt, retired Brig Akhtar Ali Baig, Iqbal Samad Khan, Khurshid Ahmed Khan, Abdul Ghaffar, Ramzan Sheikh, Pervaiz Qureshi, sponsors of Royal Palm Golf Club and five other officers. They were allegedly involved in illegal award of the lease of the railways golf club in Lahore.

Accountability court disposes of petition by Javed Ashraf Qazi, who is facing charges in Royal Palm Golf Club scam case

The counsel for Mr Qazi argued before the accountability court that the family of his client lived in Thailand and he used to visit it every year. He said that the reference was at its initial stage and Mr Qazi being an accused in the case was attending court proceedings regularly.

According to the counsel, being on the ECL Mr Qazi could not meet his family members. The counsel assured the court that the former spymaster would attend court proceedings even his name was removed from the no-fly list.

Accountability Judge Mohammad Bashir, after hearing the arguments, disposed of the matter and asked Mr Qazi to approach the interior ministry to get any relief.

As per NAB’s investigation, Pakistan Railways has in 2001 offered the lease of its golf club at canal bank, Lahore, for 33 years for which a number of firms submitted bids, including a private firm, Max Corps. During the bidding process, the lease period was illegally enhanced from 33 to 49 years.

Moreover, the area of the land offered was also increased illegally from 103 to 140 acres by demolishing the railway officers’ colony. Hence the precious piece of land of Pakistan Railways was leased out illegally in a non-transparent manner in order to grant illegal benefits to the leaseholder and owner of a private firm, Mainland Hasnain Pakistan Ltd.

According to NAB, it has been established during the investigation that the accused persons had allegedly committed corruption through misuse of authority by illegally awarding 49-year lease of the railways golf club measuring 140 acres in 2001 to Mainland Hasnain Pakistan Ltd for commercial purposes, causing a loss of around Rs2.2 billion to the national exchequer.

The reference against the four army officers had been filed after observation by the Islamabad High Court last month that retired military officers could not hide behind the army’s accountability process.

Interestingly, military officials had been summoned by NAB in the same case in 2012 for recording their statements, but nothing was done against them.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019