NAB calls Buzdar’s secretary in graft case

Published July 3, 2021
Reportedly, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to let him appoint Tahir Khursheed. — APP/File
Reportedly, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to let him appoint Tahir Khursheed. — APP/File

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has initiated an investigation against Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s most trusted lieutenant in the Punjab bureaucracy — his Principal Secretary Tahir Khursheed — and summoned him on July 8 in an income beyond means matter.

In a call-up notice on Friday, the Lahore NAB asked Mr Khursheed to present the record of his inherited properties on July 8.

The NAB also asked him to provide complete details of the movable and immovable properties owned/acquired/purchased/sold/disposed of by him and his family members.

“Details of investment in shares/companies by you and your family members, bank accounts held by you and your family members, copies of assets declarations pro formas submitted by you to the department and copies of income tax returns and wealth statements submitted to the [Federal Bureau of Revenue] should be provided to the bureau,” the anti-graft watchdog directed Mr Khursheed.

It is also investigating another provincial bureaucrat, Punjab Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Secretary Nabil Awan, in an income beyond means case.

Mr Awan had appeared before the NAB Lahore twice last month to reply to queries regarding the property in the name of his father on Raiwind Road, alleged irregularities in billboard advertisements in the Gujranwala division and his shares in the University of Sargodha’s Faisalabad campus. The investigation is under way.

Khursheed was posted as principal secretary to the chief minister late last year by Mr Buzdar after serving in two other important departments – communications and works, and local government and community development.

Reportedly, CM Buzdar had requested Prime Minister Imran Khan to let him appoint Khursheed, and the wish was granted. Khursheed had developed good relations with Buzdar during his posting as the commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan — the home district of the CM — during Shehbaz Sharif’s rule in Punjab.

“After the appointment of Khursheed as principal secretary to the CM, there were reports that Mr Buzdar feels comfortable in his meetings with the bureaucracy with his man (Khursheed) around,” a source in the Punjab government said.

After Khursheed assumed charge, the source said, a powerful group, called the ‘TK (Tahir Khursheed) group’, emerged that occupied all top positions in the provincial bureaucracy.

Recently, the PML-N had levelled serious allegations against Buzdar and Khursheed for minting money through award of contracts of development works and postings and transfers of bureaucrats. It called Khursheed a “front man” of Buzdar.

Reacting to the NAB’s notice to Khursheed, PML-N Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari on Friday said “the PML-N’s allegations against Mr Khursheed and his boss (Buzdar)” have proved to be true.

“The PTI’s Punjab government served a legal notice on me for disclosing Buzdar and Khursheed’s corruption in development contracts and transfers and postings. Will the Punjab government follow suit and issue a similar notice to the NAB?” she questioned.

The PML-N leader further said not only “TK”, but there was a “visible increase” in the assets of Usman Buzdar also over which the election commission had issued him a notice. “More corruption stories of the PTI’s big guns will come to the fore in the coming days. The PML-N has already faced fake accountability. Now, time has come to expose the real thieves,” she remarked.

On being contacted, Mr Khursheed said: “It is only complaint verification for which NAB has issued me a notice.”

Special Assistance to the Punjab CM for Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Mr Khursheed would appear before the NAB to defend himself.

Moreover, in a statement issued on Friday, CM Buzdar said: “People want strict accountability of the corrupt and elimination of corruption. They want the looters to be made a symbol of disgrace as they incurred irreparable losses to the country. The looters will not escape their logical end.”

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2021

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