MUZAFFARABAD: A close aide of former AJK prime minister and senior PML-N leader Raja Farooq Haider has reiterated his demand to the anti-corruption department to initiate a transparent inquiry into the alleged dubious purchase of 27 buses by the higher education department nearly four years ago.

In a letter written to the director general (DG) anti-corruption on Wednesday, the aide Zahid Amin, a prominent political and social activist, recalled that he had initially made a request for the inquiry on October 22, 2020 when he was holding the office of the chairman Prime Minister’s Inspection and Implementation Commission (PMIIC) in Mr Haider led PML-N government.

In June 2020, the AJK higher education department had reportedly purchased 27 buses of Isuzu company [for colleges etc] amid apprehensions expressed by the PMIIC over the transparency of the procurement process.

Some letters made available to Dawn revealed that the PMIIC had earlier directly corresponded with the higher education secretariat to ensure ingenuousness in the procurement process. However, when the department paid no heed to its several letters and went ahead with the purchase, Mr Amin, the then PMIIC chief, directly wrote to the DG anti-corruption department to dig deep into the complaints of non-transparency in the procurement.

According to Mr Amin’s letter of October 22, 2020, a copy of which was also made available to Dawn, the anti-corruption department was asked in particular to look into four points - whether the PPRA Rules had been followed for procurement or not; whether the inclusion of certain specifications of buses in the PC-1 was aimed at favouring any particular automobile company; why Mitsubishi company was ignored despite better quality and low price of its buses; why the higher education department was adamant to make procurement from Isuzu when three different reports from the AJK government’s mechanical division had pointed out defects in their vehicles?

In the same letter, Mr Amin had urged the anti-corruption department to keep his office informed about the progress of the inquiry in the light of the points raised by it.

However, according to Mr Amin, the inquiry could not be held because only a few months later the general elections related activities and engagements had overshadowed most of such issues.

In his fresh letter to the DG anti-corruption department, Mr Amin alleged that the ‘questionable’ procurement of buses was made by the higher education department under the pressure of its then minister Waqar Ahmed Noor in blatant disregard to the concerns towards which he had drawn attention in his four years old letter.

Interestingly, Mr Noor, who was re-elected in July 2021 on the PML-N ticket, is part of the present Chaudhry Anwarul Haq led coalition government as the most powerful senior minister.

Lately, Mr Noor had earned the ire of the PML-N workers for his comments at a press conference he had addressed along with some six other cabinet members, representing all three coalition partners, to counter the criticism of PM Haq by Mr Haider.

Though Mr Noor had not directly named Mr Haider, his comments were however visibly directed at the latter, who has been repeatedly calling for PML-N’s exit from the coalition government.

Mr Amin told Dawn that until the July 2021 elections he verbally reminded the anti-corruption department on many occasions to initiate action on his letter, but to no avail.

“As a member of the civil society, I have now formally written to the anti-corruption department to hold the much needed thorough and transparent inquiry into this matter without further loss of time,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2024

Editorial

Ominous demands
18 May, 2024

Ominous demands

THE cash-strapped government opened talks with the IMF this week in search of a larger and longer bailout. Nobody...
Property leaks
18 May, 2024

Property leaks

THE leaked Dubai property data reported on by media organisations around the world earlier this week seems to have...
Heat warnings
18 May, 2024

Heat warnings

STARTING next week, the country must brace for brutal heatwaves. The NDMA warns of severe conditions with...
Dangerous law
Updated 17 May, 2024

Dangerous law

It must remember that the same law can be weaponised against it one day, just as Peca was when the PTI took power.
Uncalled for pressure
17 May, 2024

Uncalled for pressure

THE recent press conferences by Senators Faisal Vawda and Talal Chaudhry, where they demanded evidence from judges...
KP tussle
17 May, 2024

KP tussle

THE growing war of words between KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur and Governor Faisal Karim Kundi is affecting...