LAHORE: Senior bureaucrat Ahad Khan Cheema has resigned from the civil service while expressing his distrust of his employer, the government of Pakistan, for acting as a silent spectator when he was roped into a politically motivated campaign spearheaded by NAB ahead of the 2018 general election and his ordeal all along.

Mr Cheema had served 38 months (Feb 2018 to April 2021) in jail while being under trial in different NAB references and was eventually released on bail.

Mr Cheema, in his resignation letter, stated that his employer, instead of providing him legal representation or support against the allegations levelled against him in the discharge of official work, preferred to be totally detached and rather proceeded to suspend him from service to make things worse.

“A harsh reality dawned upon me that all the benefits of my service to my employer were for it to take, while all the risks were mine,” he lamented.

Govt accepts Ahad Cheema’s resignation after he declined any further position

It is learnt that the Prime Minister Office has accepted the resignation/ retirement from service with effect from Jan 4, 2022.

Sources say Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who had put Mr Cheema to execute important projects with new standards of speed, quality and efficiency during his stint as Punjab chief minister, had tried to convince him to continue his service on a senior and important position, but he declined all offers over the maltreatment meted out to him.

Mr Cheema wanted to be known as an honest, upright and efficient servant of the government of Pakistan instead of being tagged with a political party. He joined the Pakistan Administrative Service (erstwhile DMG) in 2001 and had served under the chief ministership of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and Shehbaz Sharif and proved his mettle in executing many a public-interest project within the stipulated time frames. These projects included Bhikki coal-fired power plant and several projects in Lahore as Director-General Lahore Development Authority.

He had also served as deputy commissioner of Lahore and higher education department secretary.

In his two-page resignation, Mr Cheema said he was proud to have been a member of this premier civil service, which still has some of the brightest minds who are committed to serve the country under difficult conditions. During service, he said, he had had the opportunity to work at many important positions with utmost dedication and sense of public service.

“A number of projects executed by me were introduced in the country for the first time ever. New standards of speed, quality and efficiency were set in those projects that remain unmatched till date,” he said.

Ahead of the 2018 general elections, Mr Cheema stated that he was trapped into a politically motivated campaign spearheaded by NAB. He said he was arrested by NAB in February 2018, which was followed by massive vilification campaign against him on national media, and initiation of multiple inquiries and arrests, with the aim of forcing him to become an approver against former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif. He stated that leaders of various political parties running for the elections latched on the opportunity and made all kinds of statements and held press conferences.

“Even my pictures were displayed in advertisements and canvassing material by certain political parties during the election campaign,” he said and added that his whole family including women were harassed and humiliated recklessly, with the objective of pressurizing him for extracting false testimony.

He said a matter of serious concern for him was that the Pakistan government did not come to his rescue, behaved as a silent spectator and did not consider his impeccable integrity in the past decade. He said he topped all training courses and was decorated with Tamgha-i-Imtiaz in the field of public service. He stated that he had saved over Rs150 billion in major projects executed under his watch.

After he was bailed out in 2021, he said, he was served with a show-cause notice and charge sheet by Establishment Division under E&D Rules, at such a belated stage, containing the same allegations, dot by dot, which NAB had filed in its reference against him. “During the inquiry, it became crystal clear that the charges against me were false, frivolous, fabricated and against the record and facts,” he asserted.

In view of these hostile circumstances, he said, he was constrained to hold that he could no no longer remain part of civil service with earlier zeal and enthusiasm. “I cannot seek or accept a job in a system that suddenly and conveniently starts thinking that I am dishonest, prosecutes me no end; and which fails to give me due protection guaranteed under law,” he said and added that he had decided to resign and seek retirement from service.

He requested that he be retired from civil service with effect from Dec 31, 2020, when his retirement became permissible under the law.

Mr Cheema told Dawn that he had resigned from the civil service but not from the public life and looked forward to playing his role for the country.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2022

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