No progress on probe into Rawalpindi Ring Road project scam

Published May 24, 2021
The scam emerged before Eidul Fitr. — File
The scam emerged before Eidul Fitr. — File

RAWALPINDI: The inquiry into the Rawalpindi Ring Road project scam has slowed down as no progress has been made to probe alleged involvement of members of the ruling party or politicians of the opposition as well as housing societies.

The scam emerged before Eidul Fitr. As the controversy deepened, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari resigned from his position.

However, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar rejected allegation of giving benefit to a private housing society. He also offered to quit politics if the charges were proved against him.

The Punjab government announced to start an investigation into the matter and assigned the task to the Anti-Corruption Establishment. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has also announced to start an investigation.

On the other hand, the Punjab government’s fact-finding committee formed on April 27 failed to submit its complete report.

The chief secretary had constituted the committee, consisting of Commissioner Rawalpindi Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah, Additional Commissioner Coordination Jahangir Ahmed and Deputy Commissioner Anwarul Haq.

As per a notification, the fourth member of the committee was to be selected by the three members. But the fourth member was not selected and the committee without its completion submitted a report to the provincial government.

Two members of the committee objected to the content of the report prepared by the commissioner Rawalpindi and thus Deputy Commissioner Anwarul Haq was removed from his post.

According to officials, the report was prepared by the commissioner Rawalpindi and terms of reference (TORs) of the inquiry was not followed. The committee was tasked to answer nine questions and complete the report on the basis of the three TORs.

These TORs were: the fact-finding inquiry committee will investigate the issues and submit its findings on the questions of conflict of interest, rent seeking, corruption and disregard for the norms under lying public administration.

The report and recommendations will be submitted within 10 days.

After having submitted its report on TOR No 1, the inquiry committee will proceed to identify public policy gaps leading to rent seeking from infrastructure development and make recommendations for stopping rent-seeking driven infrastructure expansion.

The committee may consult domain experts, academia and necessary stakeholders and submit its recommendations accordingly.

After submitting its report on TOR No 2, the committee shall proceed further to suggest, especially in the context of Rawalpindi, infrastructure development model which is conducive to economic growth and encourages wealth transfer from speculative to productive sectors.

Sources said technically the committee was not complete from the day one and after transfer of the deputy commissioner, the Services and General Administration should have reconstituted the committee to submit its report as per the TORs set by the government.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2021

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