Former first lady Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Farid Maneka was arrested on Monday by the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) from Lahore on charges of illegal construction on government land.
ACE Director General Sohail Zafar Chatha confirmed the development to Dawn.com, saying that an inquiry was being conducted against Maneka over a reference filed by the Okara deputy commissioner.
He said the deputy commissioner’s reference stated that Maneka had allegedly constructed a marriage hall and 26 shops illegally on a site designated for a graveyard.
“The marriage hall was built on a four-kanal land of a cemetery without any approval [from relevant authorities],” DG Chatha said. “Maneka has been illegally occupying the land of Pir Islam Graveyard Haveli Rakha for a long time.”
He also alleged that Maneka was trying to escape the country to the UAE when he was apprehended. “The anti-corruption officials foiled his attempt to flee the country and arrested him”.
DG Chatha added that anti-corruption operations were ongoing indiscriminately against corrupt elements across Punjab.
In a statement issued later in the day, an ACE spokesperson said arrest warrants for Maneka were issued on Sept 14. The suspect, he stated, had collected over Rs2 billion from the illegal shops built on government land.
“Maneka will be moved to Sahiwal division today after completing all legal formalities,” the spokesperson said, adding that raids were being conducted to arrest other suspects.
The allegations made against Maneka by DG Chatha were also mentioned in the FIR.
According to the FIR (first information report), a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the case was lodged under sections 409 (Criminal breach of trust by a public servant, or by banker, merchant or agent), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (Using as genuine a forged document).
It said the land was valued at millions of rupees and no money was paid to the government for it. The report also stated that an inquiry was initiated over the indication of ACE Sahiwal.
It also alleged that officials of the revenue, awqaf, and excise departments helped Maneka grab the land.
The FIR also claimed that Maneka and his family members illegally received rent from the shops located there that amounted to Rs25,988,000 so far. It further alleged that the illegal rent from the marriage hall cost a loss of Rs13,670,880 to the exchequer.
The FIR was registered on August 11, 2023, at 7:45am, according to the lodged report by ASI Iqbal of ACE Okara.
Additional input by Imran Gabol