ISLAMABAD: Due to the growing rivalry between the PTI Islamabad chapter and the PML-N, a reference has been filed against Mayor Islamabad Sheikh Anser Aziz apparently to pave the way for his suspension at least for three months.

The Local Government Commission headed by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CDA Affairs MNA Ali Nawaz Awan met to discuss various issues.

During the meeting, acting Chief Metropolitan Officer (CMO) Humayun Akhtar, who is member engineering CDA, filed a reference with the commission against the mayor, alleging a number of charges.

The commission then formed a three-member committee, headed by PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, to probe the allegations. The commission head Ali Nawaz Awan said recommendations will be sent to the federal government to suspend the mayor during the inquiry period.

But speaking to Dawn, Senator Mushahid said during the meeting no decision was taken for sending the recommendations to the federal government to suspend the mayor.

PTI local leader seeks suspension of mayor for three months till probe is complete

Meanwhile, the commission head decided to recommend to the federal government to suspend the mayor belonging to the PML-N for three months till the completion of the inquiry.

The PTI locals leaders have been targeting the mayor for the last many months over his performance as the city is facing a number of challenges such as water scarcity and poor sanitation.

In his reference, the CMO alleged that two dozen staff members were in personal use of the mayor. the mayor was also using official vehicles beyond his entitlement. The CMO said the MCI was being used by the mayor for his personal glorification. The allegation sheet also said an illegal housing society had been allowed [for publicity] and the society had placed its advertisement with a message from the mayor.

The charge sheet also stated that the mayor in the absence of rules made transfers-postings and took disciplinary action. The CMO also stated that in public stance and statement in court the mayor said transfers/postings were being made by MCI.

The reference said in violation of the law BPS-17 and 18 officers of the fire department were posted to the directorate of municipal administration (DMA).

Similarly, an engineer was posted to the DMA and another was posted as the director general parks. The project officer was transferred in violations of rules [from CDA to MCI] and he continued holding his office after expiry of his contract [from CDA].

Talking about the alleged financial irregularities, the CMO said an account was opened in Bank of Punjab and operated without financial rules and funds were utilised in 2017-18 for various heads. Payment amounting to Rs130 million was made on account of sanitation services 2018-19. The reference said the mayor approved contract of sanitation in I-18 in violation of PPRA rules.

The performance of Sheikh Anser Aziz, who was elected the first mayor of Islamabad during PML-N tenure, remained below average due to various reasons. Officials said neither the mayor’s party nor the PTI practically owned the MCI as so far rules related to establishment and finance are incomplete.

Non-provision of funds by the government to the MCI made the mayor virtually handicapped in launching any welfare project. The MCI is also unable to utilise funds it collects through various taxes because of incomplete financial rules.

However, the PTI members said in past the mayor utilised the funds from MCI account but when PTI came to power he stopped spending them on the pretext of incomplete rules.

Similarly, instead of taking interest in affairs of the city, the mayor made dozens of foreign tours, enjoying full status of his position but residents of the city could not get any fruit of the first ever local government elections.

Speaking to Dawn, Ali Nawaz Awan said recommendations of the commission would be sent to the federal government to suspend the mayor for 90 days to complete the probe against him. He said serious allegations were levelled against the mayor which warranted a proper inquiry.

Mr Awan, Recently, told the National Assembly that due to poor performance of the MCI led by the mayor residents of Islamabad had been facing an acute shortage of water.

When contacted, Mayor Aziz said the reference was baseless and there was no serious allegation against him.

“My hands are clear and I am satisfied. I will respond to each and every allegation what a nonsense is this. I am being accused of patronising an illegal housing society. If any society displayed banners without my intimation and permission, what is my fault,” he said and added that the reference was politically motivated. He said besides submitting proper response, he would also move court case against the commission.

He said without having financial rules and funds “how can I perform extraordinary.” He said the PTI government should tell the nation how much funds it had provided to MCI.

Speaking to Dawn, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said during the meeting no decision was made for sending recommendations to the federal government.

“The committee will give an opportunity to the mayor to present his point of view in response to the allegations,” he said and added that cart can’t be put before the horse.

Meanwhile, PTI local chapter headed by the opposition leader in the MCI Sheeraz Kaini held a protest outside the mayor office for not summoning its session to discuss water shortage issue.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2020