ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed Pakistan Railways (PR) chairman to file references against corrupt officials in the National Accountability Bureau and retrieve property confiscated by land mafia with the administration’s assistance.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing a suo motu case on delayed payment of pension to old rail employees.
Railways Chairman Javed Iqbal assured the court pensioners would receive their dues for October from Tuesday. In line with the court’s directive, he said their pension would be credited to their new bank accounts near their place of residence from December.
Former railways minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who had asked to become a party to the case, contended that Rs1.5 billion was paid in advance to a Chinese company for the repair of 69 locomotives in 2009. The amount has now been allocated for the purchase of 520 new locomotives. “New locomotives were not purchased nor have existing ones been repaired till now.”
He said qualified engineers were sent on forced leave to justify the purchase of new locomotives. “Only 57 locomotives out of 528 are operational.”
Railways Board Secretary Shafiqullah submitted that Sheikh Rasheed wanted to introduce 24 new trains for political mileage. The chief justice remarked, “It is sad to note that we can build tanks and missiles but we cannot repair locomotives.” He directed the PR officials to have the locomotives repaired by in-house engineers instead of hiring people from outside. “Bring the locomotives back on the tracks as soon as possible. Pakistan Railways as an institution has been completely destroyed.”
The court directed the attorney general to request the National Logistics Cell, Heavy Mechanical Complex, Taxila and other institutions to repair the locomotives in the larger national interest. Pointing out corruption in PR, Sheikh Rasheed has alleged that scrap worth Rs1 billion was sold at the rate of Rs23,000 per ton while the going rate was over Rs 50,000 and the case is pending with the Federal Investigation Agency. The case was adjourned till November 10.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2011.
More in PakistanKaptaan comes of age