ISLAMABAD: Top bosses of the NAB have simply vanished to respond to the media queries pertaining to the alleged extreme coercive measures that were said to have been used during the last days on Kamran Faisal that may have led to his sudden death, either by suicide or murder.
Chairman NAB Fasih Bukhari and Director General Financial Crime Wing Kausar Malik, who are alleged to have held an insulting meeting with Kamran Faisal on the night of Jan 16, are neither responding on their mobile phones nor have replied to the SMS messages sent to them.
After repeated efforts the NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal was, however, helpful to the extent of responding to an SMS message, conveying: “Sorry for late response. In fact I’m still with some guests. As far as you question is concerned, it is totally untrue.”
The spokesman was asked if he could confirm whether Kamran Faisal was brought to Chairman’s office by Kausar Malik where the officer was alleged to have been pressurised to change his report in favour of the prime minister in the RPPs case.
A NAB official, speaking on the condition of full confidentiality, confided to The News that Kamran Faisal was under extreme duress to change his investigation report that had become the basis for the SC’s recent order to get Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and over 20 others arrested in the RPPs case.
The source said that in the evening of Jan 16 Kamran Faisal, who was an assistant director of NAB Rawalpindi, was sitting with his colleagues in the office of Rawalpindi NAB Additional Director Staff officer Shafqat, when he received a phone call from NAB Islamabad headquarter to rush there. Besides others, it is said, assistant director Shahzad was also present.
It is said that the phone call from the Bureau’s headquarter had come from Director General Financial Crime Wing Kausar Malik. After the phone call, Kamran is said to have shared with his colleagues that he was being summoned to Islamabad HQs. On this the NAB Rawalpindi additional director staff officer provided to Kamran the official vehicle Kia Registration No. 4242 to attend this urgently called meeting in Islamabad. The name of the vehicle’s driver was said to be Tariq.
When approached by The News Shafqat refused to discuss anything regarding this mysterious death. However, the source claimed that Kamran reached NAB’s headquarters and went to Kausar Malik’s office where he was told that he should change his report for the sake of the institution’s respect as on the next day (Jan 17) the Supreme Court was to hear the PM’s arrest case.
The source added that Kamran was reluctant to change his report on the wishes of his superior. Later, it is said, Kausar Malik took him to the office of Chairman NAB Fasih Bukhari who was also accompanied by one of the key prosecutors of the Bureau.
In the Chairman NAB’s office, the source said, all the three again pressed him to change his report and suggested to him that he could give the reason that for being upset he had wrongly included the name of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the RPPs corruption case. It is said that he was also asked to sign a blank stamp paper.
The source claimed that after his refusal he was asked to leave. Kamran later got back to Kausar Malik’s office and shared with some of his Rawalpindi colleagues what had happened to him. On Jan 17 hearing of the RPPs case, it is said that Kamran was also present in the SC.
Fasih Bukhari was contacted several times but he did not pick up his mobile. Bukhari also did not respond to The News query forwarded to him through SMS mobile message.
Kausar Malik also did not respond to The News. An SMS message sent to him on Friday evening was responded in the midnight conveying that his mobile phone battery got exhausted so “just saw” the message. He promised to coordinate with The News on Saturday but it did not happen despite repeated efforts. Kausar Malik even did not bother to respond to the questions sent to him.
These questions included: a) Will you please explain why did you call Kamran to your office on 16th evening? B) Why did you take him to the Chairman NAB? c) Did you and the chairman pressurise him to change his report?
Meanwhile an unidentified caller from an official number starting with 924 figure had called this correspondent on Friday evening claiming that late on the evening of Jan 17 Kamran was badly scolded by his senior in the Rawalpindi NAB office for refusing to change his investigation report. The caller claimed to be a young officer of the NAB. However, this fact has also not been officially confirmed.
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: On the eve of a new global report on corruption, the Transparency International Pakistan has claimed that the TIP alone has identified corruption cases worth Rs 300 billion in different federal government departments during one year.
Talking to The News Chairman TIP Adil Gilani lamented that the government did not show any interest in probing these cases of corruption. He, however, said that it was only the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly and the PPRA, which took notice of some of these corruption cases.
He explained that generally the identified corruption cases involved violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules of 2004. The Transparency International is releasing its report on Tuesday at 2 pm amid indications that Pakistan is all set to hit further lows amongst the world’s most corrupt nations. The 2009 report showed Pakistan climbing five numbers from the previous 47 to become the 42nd most corrupt country in the world.
Gilani expressed his disappointment that there was no effective accountability apparatus presently operational in Pakistan due to which corruption was on the rise. He explained that the TIP referred a number of corruption cases to the NAB but it did not proceed even in one single case.
Amongst the mega corruption cases, he said the Rental Power Projects of the government, presently under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, was on the top. He claimed that under the Rental Power Projects, the government awarded 14 contracts in violation of the PPRA rules as also stated in the ADB report, causing a loss of over US$ 2 billion. He said that the TIP had also written to the apex court on this case of massive corruption and irregularity.
He said that the TIP also wrote to different authorities about corruption in Pakistan Steel, whose sale policy and procurement had caused reported loss of Rs 22 billion. This corruption case, though ignored by the government, had taken been up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Gilani also talked of the alleged violation of Pubic Procurement Rules 2004 by Pakistan Railways in the tender for procurement of 150 locomotives, only US made, which might have caused a loss of at least Rs 40 billion to the national exchequer. The project, he said, is presently on hold.
Regarding the OGDCL, which made headlines in the recent past when Prime Minister Gilani appointed his jail mate and a convict who was not even a graduate as its managing director, Gilani said that the TI had also reported to the government authorities about the purchase of compressors for $30 million for Qadirpur Gas Field without inviting public tenders from M/s Valerus, which is a violation of the Public Procurement Rules 2004. He said the TIP also reported another violation of the Public Procurement Rules 2004 in tender for supply of rental drilling rigs costing the Government of Pakistan Rs 3 billion per year. He added that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan awarded contracts at exorbitant rates to cartels of Stevedores and Transporters in 2009, wheat and fertiliser, causing loss of over Rs2 billion.
Regarding the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), he said, it saved a claim of US $2.2 million for extra/additional work to the contractor of Expo 2010-Shagnahi, China, which was also supported by the Ambassador of Pakistan in China. On TIP objections, he said, the TDAP rejected the claim.
About the National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL), he said, the TIP identified a case of purchase of 803 kanal-19 marla plot in Dubai’s Liberty Tower at the rate of UAE Darham 2,750 per square feet against the market price of AED 1,200 per square feet. Alleged loss to exchequer in this case, he said, was Rs 900 million. In another case, 10-acre plot was purchased in Korangi Deh Phihai, in August 2009 at the rate of Rs 90m per acre, against maximum market price of Rs 20m per acre. It caused a total loss of Rs 7 billion.
In yet another case pertaining to the NICL, land was purchased in Lahore in 2009 for Rs1.5 billion against market value of Rs 30 million. It caused a loss of Rs 1.2 billion to public kitty. In case of EOBI, he said that the TIP challenged the EOBI to invest in one of the four Centaurus Towers in Islamabad and the Intercontinental Hotel, Islamabad. The EOBI was also purchasing Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway and investing Rs 27 billion against the provisions of EOBI Act but the PAC later stopped this move.
Regarding the NHA, he said that according to the AGP Report 2008 NHA has irregularities of Rs 29 billion out of Rs 42 billion annual fund. He said that after eating away its annual development budget of 2010, now the NHA intends to reconstruct the M-9 Karachi-Hyderabad through some other investment. It needs Rs 27 billion for the project. He said that the NHA management planned to use EOBI funds for M-9.
Gilani said that Zafar Iqbal Gondal (brother of a PPP minister), who was Member Finance NHA, has been transferred and posted in January 2010 as Chairman EOBI. Asad Ullah Shaikh, another PPP appointee, who refused to allow Rs 27 billion to be used for a losing project, was sacked to make way for Gondal. He said that after these changes, the EOBI made a proposal to become a partner of the NHA on the M-9 under the Public Private Partnership Scheme of the GoP as BOT (built, operate & transfer) Project, based on the recovery of toll tax.
Gilani said that nowhere in world, road projects on BOT basis are financially viable but still the EOBI decided to own M-9 and build it. In 2005, he said, the board of trustees of the EOBI had decided to invest in the real estate. He added that for this purpose, PRIMACO (Pakistan Real Estate Investment and Management Company Ltd) was established, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of EOBI. PRIMACO has been registered with Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and this company has launched many real estate projects.
The PRIMACO, he said, has overstepped its mandate and prepared a proposal for the EOBI to build the M-9 at Rs 27 billion. They have also proposed to make the NHA as executing agency for award of consultants and contractors’ contract, total 10 numbers, and appoint PRIMACO as project managers of this project. The NHA, he said, has already awarded 10 contracts to blue-eyed contractors and consultants, without public tendering, biggest being Rs 4 billion contract to one contractor against PPRA Rules, and are awaiting approval of the EOBI to send an official letter of government approval to proceed. According to the EOBI Act and rules, he said the EOBI cannot invest public pension funds in an infrastructure project. The EOBI under Rule 2 (i) can invest two-and-a-half per cent of the portfolio. The EOBI’s current portfolio is around Rs 120 billion, minus billion of rupees losses in share market. This means only Rs 1.8 billion can be invested in M-9. But M-9 is a Rs 27 billion project.
Gilani added that in July 2010, the TIP wrote a letter to the NHA for its failure to obtain CAR, (Contractor All Risk Policy) from the NLC Northern Bypass Shershah bridge contracts causing the exchequer to pay Rs 170 million for the reconstruction of the bridge.
Additionally, contracts in 2008 & 2009 worth Rs 467 million, Rs 203 million and Rs 124 million were awarded to NESPAK in violation of Public Procurement Rules 2004. Gilani added that none of the contracts awarded by the NHA in the last two years are in compliance with the Public Procurement Rules 2004. In case of PEPCO, the TIP chief said that it reported Rs 2-2.5 billion corruption in purchase of 30 million energy saver bulbs scheme costing Rs 6 billion.
|By Ansar Abbasi|
|The war between crime and justice has intensified. The Supreme Court that rose in the wake of popular struggle is fearlessly busy in demolishing powerful idols, whereas those with some clout in the government are endeavouring not only to save them but also to glorify them as heroes. The government has emerged as the biggest hurdle in the way of justice. The accused, counsels and prosecution have all joined hands to weaken the judge and make him toothless. Efforts are afoot to murder justice and courts are made the butt of criticism. The only crime of the Supreme Court is that it is determined to bring to book every criminal regardless of his position, connections and his office. It beats one’s imagination that when a corrupt officer like Ahmad Riaz Sheikh is sent behind the bars, PPP leaders start issuing anti-judiciary statements. Nobody bothers to ask how a corrupt person who earned notoriety because of his corruption could be laundered of all his black deeds through the NRO. Not only that he was reinstated, and too within one year, he was given promotion from BS-18 to BS-20 and made in-charge of a very important department — the Economic Crime Wing.
To elevate such a person as head of a department meant for eradicating corruption was a hoax played on the people of Pakistan. When the government did this, all remained mum except the Jang Group of Newspapers. None raised a voice against this cruel joke, neither on the media, nor in parliament or the corridors of power. Why did the powerful bureaucrats, including the interior secretary, establishment secretary, DG FIA and other heavyweights of promotion board, prefer to remain silent and why did they not protest against wrong promotion? All knew the real background of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh but the senior officials chose to look the other way.
Now when the Supreme Court has ordered to handcuff him, restored his sentence and ordered that he be sent to jail, a hue and cry has been raised. A particular class has become nervous when the SC is asking the powerful secretaries as well as the NAB chairman as to why they were defying the apex court’s orders instead of implementing the same, and as to why they should not be sent behind the bars for the same. Now voices are being raised against such treatment against senior and big officers.
Perhaps, we do not like to come out of the pit of mental degradation where only the weak and voiceless people can be punished and there was no concept of bringing the rich, the powerful, the big bureaucrats, and rulers in the dock. Now when the winds of change have started blowing and we are witnessing the birth of a new Pakistan, this class has started screaming. Previously, one felt shame on being punished for corruption, but after restoration of his punishment by the Supreme Court, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh was seen saluting the media, making victory signs. One felt as if he had won some laurels in the court.
On his way to jail from the police station, the criminal said that he was with Asif Ali Zardari yesterday, and he was still with him today. This statement alone was sufficient for proceeding against a government official.
One is at a loss to know what was special in this official that three advisers of the Presidency — Fauzia Habib, Rukhsana Bangash, and Farahnaz — rushed to the police station to meet him.
Similar attitude is being shown in case of resignation of PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti. An influential minister of the incumbent government said the Supreme Court was unjust to Dasti. When asked whether it too was unjust that our political leaders, who should be our role models, should return to assemblies on the basis of fraud? The minister had the cheek to say that the court should not have insulted the MNA and he should not have been told either to resign or to go to jail. I was at a loss to know why the minister was oblivious of the insult the said MNA had meted out to the people. He had ignored the lie on the basis of which he had sat in the National Assembly.
The Supreme Court reprimanded the NAB on another fraud and directed it to take disciplinary action against the prosecutors who, with their silence, helped some NRO beneficiary big guns to be acquitted from accountability courts. It is a mockery of justice that a counsel appearing against the accused should be subordinate to him. When the NAB works under the government and the Law Ministry, how can it speak against the accused who are part of the government? We have been clamouring since long that as long as the NAB prosecutors are under the thumb of the government, courts will continue to be cheated and the murder of justice cannot stop.
Forget me, forget the Jang Group because we are prejudiced in the eyes of the government. Just read the Dawn of Wednesday in which it has been reported that the NAB did not oppose the appeal for acquittal of Siraj Shamsuddin, former principal secretary of PM Gilani, and the court acquitted him. Reporting about the acquittal of Agha Sirajud Din, Sindh Minister for Local Bodies who happens to be very close to President Zardari, the paper writes that NAB prosecutor submitted in the court that he had no proof against Agha Sirajuddin and this led to his acquittal. The same paper writes in the same news that Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Principal Secretary to the President Suleman Faruqui, his brother and ex Chairman Pakistan Steel Usman Farooqi and Agha Siraj Durrani are among those who were acquitted because of silence of NAB. A few days ago, in response to my question, the NAB told me that they were not going to appeal in higher courts against any of these acquittals of influential persons and those close to President Zardari. The Supreme Court ordered the NAB on Wednesday that appeals should be filed in these cases too.
This is going to cause hue and cry. However, all were mum at that time; the NAB was mum; and criminals were being acquitted. This class of people wants the return of Dogar era when all the big guns, capitalists, bureaucrats, ministers, and rulers were safe, all their crimes notwithstanding. The courts even paid them respect. But now a change has come to Pakistan and we must learn to live in a changed country.