A Cabinet committee has exonerated Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour of financial corruption charges but the head of the committee is convinced that Bilour is guilty of fraud.
The federal minister is accused of mass irregularities and gross violation of rules and procedures in purchase of 75 locomotives from a Chinese firm under an agreement, worth $115 million, signed in 2009.
“I don’t know how the Cabinet committee formed its opinion to acquit the railways minister,” Sheikh Waqas Akram, a state minister in the federal cabinet and chairman of the committee, told The Express Tribune.
“Bilour made a confessional statement before the committee that he had violated the rules and procedures in the deal,” he said. “I will write a 5-page dissenting note against the cabinet committee’s judgment that vindicated the minister,” he said, adding that he is convinced that Bilour is responsible for the ‘plunder.’
“There is no doubt that Bilour is fully responsible for the financial corruption,” he said.
Bilour has rejected the allegations against him.
The railways minister told The Express Tribune that the Federal Investigation Agency had interrogated him for corruption charges. The agency not only absolved him of the charges, but also wrote a comprehensive report in his favour, he had said.
The committee’s report is yet to be presented before the federal cabinet.
“The committee is waiting for my dissenting note,” Akram said. The committee chairman also claimed that he was personally approached by Asfandyar Wali Khan, chief of Awami National Party (ANP), who asked him to forgive Bilour.
“Asfandyar tried his best to convince me to write a favourable report for Bilour who is a top leader of the ANP.” Public relations officer of the railways minister, Zulfiqar Toru, however, rejected Waqas’s claim that Asfandyar had asked him to be lenient to Bilour.
Earlier, PR chairman Javed Ahmed had conceded before a two-member Supreme Court bench in November 2011 that rules and regulations were violated in purchase of 75 locomotives.
The chairman had submitted a detailed report before Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan who were hearing a suo motu case about non-payment of salaries and pension to employees and workers of PR.
Former railways minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, who was allowed by the SC to become a party in the case, had also told the court that rules and regulations were relaxed on the intervention of a top personality of the country for purchase of 75 locomotives.
The Cabinet committee was constituted by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on reports that the railways minister was responsible for huge financial losses to his ministry.
The committee, comprising federal ministers Rehman Malik and Manzoor Wattoo, had charge-sheeted Bilour with seven allegations in procurement of 75 locomotives.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2012.