Probe panel clears KP CM’s ex-aide of graft charge

Published May 9, 2021
A fact-finding inquiry has cleared former adviser to the chief minister on information and public relations Ajmal Wazir of the charge of receiving kickbacks for the release of government advertisements. — Photo courtesy Twitter/File
A fact-finding inquiry has cleared former adviser to the chief minister on information and public relations Ajmal Wazir of the charge of receiving kickbacks for the release of government advertisements. — Photo courtesy Twitter/File

PESHAWAR: A fact-finding inquiry has cleared former adviser to the chief minister on information and public relations Ajmal Wazir of the charge of receiving kickbacks for the release of government advertisements.

Mr Wazir was sacked from his position in July last year after the leak of a purported audio of him allegedly discussing kickbacks with an advertising agency.

The government had formed a committee headed by former bureaucrat Sahibzada Saeed to probe the matter.

In a video statement issued here on Saturday, spokesman for the government Kamran Khan Bangash said the forensic analysis of the leaked audio couldn’t substantiate its authenticity and any meaningful link of Mr Wazir with it.

Ajmal Wazir was sacked after leak of advertisement kickback audio

He said the probe committee headed by Sahiazda Saeed and comprising former additional inspector general of police Tariq Javed and retired district and session judge Mohammad Bashir had submitted its report to the provincial government.

Mr Bangash said the committee quizzed government officials, the advertising agency’s staff members and other relevant people and sent the audio clip to the Federal Investigation Agency lab for forensic analysis.

He said the forensic lab’s report couldn’t verify the authenticity of audio or substantial link of Mr Wazir with it.

The CM’s aide said Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan had directed the relevant officials to file the case.

Mr Wazir told Dawn that he had been informed by the provincial government about the probe outcome.

“Law minister Akbar Ayub Khan and government’s spokesperson Kamran Khan Bangash informed me about the findings of the inquiry,” he said.

On July 11, 2020, an audio tape surfaced in which Mr Wazir and an advertising agency’s representative were allegedly talking about kickbacks for the release of government advertisements.

Soon after the audio clip went viral, the chief minister removed Mr Wazir from his position of the spokesman for the government.

He also directed the chief secretary to initiate a case for the fact-finding inquiry into the graft audio.

“The matter may be treated as most important and urgent,” the chief minister’s July 11 letter read.

The government formed a three-member fact-finding committee on July 14 to probe the allegations against Mr Wazir and directed it to submit its report within 30 days.

The committee was tasked with determining the genuineness or otherwise of the audio clip through forensic analysis and/or other circumstantial corroboration, if any.

Besides, its terms of reference (TORs) also included examination of procurement(s) discussed in the audio-clip and undertake a thorough review of process of award and subsequent execution of such procurement(s) to determine wrongdoing(s) and malfeasance therein, if any and the person(s) responsible, if any.

The committee was also to propose rectifying measure(s) and punitive action(s), if any wrongdoing or malfeasance is established during the probed and determine the quantum of loss, if any, occasioned to public exchequer.

The TORs also stipulated thorough fact finding probe into other procurement(s) of similar nature, undertaken during the tenure of Ajmal Khan Wazir as Adviser to the Chief Minister for Information and Public Relations KP and systemic analysis of method of procurement(s) and grant of advertisement(s) to eliminate possibility of personal discretion and malfeasance while ensuring transparency and accountability, without compromising maximum value for money.

However, Mr Wazir had claimed his innocence and said the audio tape was massively edited as some people had plotted against him.

He added that the audio was made out of edited sound bites curated from various news conferences and other briefings.

The former CM’s aide said the advertisement for which he was implicated was related to the health department and he only served as the honorary member of the committee headed by the health minister.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

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