ISLAMABAD: After failing to retrieve information about the billions of rupees collected in the name of Diamer-Bhasha Dam for nearly a month, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has again shown interest in summoning former chief justice Saqib Nisar, albeit this time after auditor general office and the parliamentary body get access to details of the fund, established in July 2018.

On Tuesday, PAC Chairman Noor Alam, who at the previous PAC meeting held on August 23 had summoned the former chief justice to know what has become of the Rs10bn Fund, said Mr Nisar would be summoned as soon as the PAC and AG office have access to details of the fund.

The AG office earlier apprised the committee that it was unable to access accounts of the fund. “The Supreme Court registrar had declined to share information of the fund,” a senior official from the AG office explained.

When at the meeting, PML-N lawmaker Barjees Tahir reminded the PAC chairman that Mr Nisar had not turned up despite summons, Mr Alam said the ex-CJ had collected money for the fund and must explain what has become of the fund. “Whether it is the chief justice, the army chief or the president, they are answerable for their actions.

NA body, auditor general unable to access fund’s details following SC registrar’s refusal

“The former CJP will be summoned as soon as the PAC and the office of the auditor general have access to details of the fund,” the chairman said.

In July 2018, the then chief justice Saqib Nisar had taken the initiative of collecting donations for the Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams by launching the fund. Later, the then prime minister Imran Khan also joined the campaign, making it a joint venture to overcome the country’s water scarcity problems. The fund had hit Rs10 billion in collections by March 2019.

The PAC chairman directed the committee secretary to write to the SC registrar, reminding him that he was acting outside the law.

The lawmakers were also given a briefing about the damages to dams by the recent rains and flash floods and their condition.

Balochistan irrigation department officials informed the lawmakers that 40 of 1,020 earth-filled dams had been damaged. No small dams in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was damaged. While out of 103 small dams in Sindh, 68 were damaged according to the Sindh irrigation department. It could take over a month to drain floodwater and at least three months for damage assessment.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022

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