Federal Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Mian Raza Rabbani, suspecting embezzlement in the funds of the Aiwan-i-Iqbal (AI), has ordered a detailed scrutiny of its affairs, rent and tenancy.
The minister, who is also ex-officio president of the Iqbal Academy Pakistan (IAP), has sought all receipts showing amounts along with dates of investment and maturity. He has also asked the administration to point out the provisions of rules and laws under which the investments were made.
Rabbani has ordered the AI administration to present details of all the tenants in the complex. Names of tenants, status, periods of lease agreements, space occupied and rent charged are to be provided to the minister. The administration has also been directed to provide details regarding the use of the conference centre, the banquet hall, the committee rooms and allied facilities during the past one year along with rental rates and the actual amounts charged.
The minister has further asked for certified bank statements of all the bank accounts.
Rabbani has assigned Nisar Chaudhry, deputy secretary of the Inter Provincial Coordination Ministry, to visit the AI and obatain a complete inventory of the paintings and other art assets. Rabbani has asked that the report be provide to him by May 4.
Rabbani issued these directions on April 20 after a briefing by IAP director Dr Muhammad Suheyl Umar and AI administrator Nadeem Iqbal Abbasi.
Sources inside the ministry told The Express Tribune that Rabbani was told that IAP, AI and even Quaid-i-Azam Academy, which comes under the supervision of his ministry, were plagued with ‘fortune seekers’.
Sources said that Umar told the minister that the IAP was facing a dire shortage of funds as the AI, its profit raising organisation, had not been providing them any financial assistance for the past eight months even though several written requests had been sent in this regard. The AI, he said, according to the Terms of Reference, was bound to provide the IAP with financial assistance.
Sources said the IAP director presented the minister with copies of the official letters sent asking for financial assistance from the AI. However, when Rabbani asked Abbasi about the matter, he said the academy had never asked for funds in writing, the sources added.
Rabbani asked the secretary of the ministry to handle the case and to arrange for the fulfillment of financial assistance from the AI to the IAP.
The minister assured that the Iqbal Academy Pakistan Act would be pushed through within three months so that it could replace the Iqbal Academy Ordinance 1962 and give legal cover to the AI, which currently has no legal status. According to revenue records, presently the AI building site is owned by the federal government. Source in the AI said the department is neither an autonomous body nor an attached department.
Sources in the IAP said that the Culture Ministry made Abbasi director in July 2010.
An official of the academy, on condition of anonymity, said that the administration of the AI also sent them threatening letters asking them to shift the academy from the Aiwan to some other place. He said that they also forcefully removed pictures of Allama Iqbal, flex signs of the academy and quotes of the national poet from the building.
He said presently there were 62 staffers of the academy and it was impossible to pay their salaries because of the lack of financial assistance from the AI. He said presently the academy was relying on grants given to it by the provincial and federal governments.
Abbasi could not be reached for his comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2011.