Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari has resigned from his position over the allegations levelled against him in the Rawalpindi Ring Road (RRR) project scam, he announced on Monday.
In a series of tweets, Bukhari said he was stepping down until his name was cleared of "any allegations and media’s obnoxious lies" regarding the case.
He recalled Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying that "if a person has been named rightly or wrongly in any inquiry he should cease to hold any public office till his name has been cleared of charges."
"Owing to the allegations in ongoing Ring Road inquiry I want to set this example by resigning from office until my name is cleared up of any allegations and media’s obnoxious lies," he wrote.
The premier's aide reiterated that he had "nothing to do" with the Ring Road or any other ongoing real estate project. "This time the inquiry should be done by capable personnel, I endorse a judicial inquiry," he said.
"I’m here to stay in Pakistan and stand united with the Prime Minister and his vision," Bukhari, who is a dual British-Pakistani national, stressed. "I sacrificed my life overseas to come and serve my country, I am ready to face any inquiry."
Prime Minister Imran had appointed Bukhari as his special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development a month after taking office in September 2018. He had the status of a minister of state for his office.
On Saturday, the prime minister ordered a full-fledged inquiry into the RRR project scam after which the Punjab government decided to send the case to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) or the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for thorough investigation.
The decisions were taken as two fact-finding reports — one by the Rawalpindi commissioner and the other by the deputy commissioner — landed at the prime minister office, with the second report hinting that the project had been realigned with the approval of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and his finance adviser Dr Salman Shah.
However, the PML-N demanded action against the relevant authorities for approving the ring road’s realignment, asserting that neither Chief Minister Buzdar and Prime Minister Imran nor "direct beneficiaries" such as cabinet members Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Bukhari should be exempted.
PML-N deputy secretary general Attaullah Tarar had alleged that both Bukhari and Khan had received huge financial benefits through the ring road project because their lands were near the project.
It was alleged that the length of the road was increased to give way to housing societies patronised by some local politicians and the original map of the ring road was changed and more new roads were added to it.
However, some sources said there were no changes in the project as the Punjab Public Private Authority under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Buzdar had approved the alignment.
On the other hand, another official of the district administration said some changes were made in the original route approved by the Punjab government. He said a 100-year-old banyan tree in Rawat was used to justify the rerouting of the ring road which was followed by saving of an elected public representative’s land from the route.