SHC issues notice to Maryam, others over $70m US funds

Directed to submit replies by January 23 on why ‘Let Girls Learn’ project failed to proceed

Our Correspondent December 20, 2017

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz, the federal finance ministry and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) director general to file replies by January 23 on a petition seeking probe into utilisation of $70 million granted by former first lady of the US Michelle Obama last year to promote girls education in Pakistan.

A division bench, headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, was hearing the petition seeking directives for the anti-graft watchdog to investigate the alleged embezzlement of funds granted under the 'Let Girls Learn' project.

The petition was filed by Bisma Noreen, who had taken to the court former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam and the federal authorities concerned over the alleged embezzlement.

SHC asks federal government for details on $70m pledged for Let Girls Learn project

The petitioner informed the judges that Michelle and Maryam had launched the 'Let Girls Learn' programme at the White House in July 2016 for the promotion of girls' education in Pakistan.

She said the programme worth $70 million was supposed to help build over a dozen new schools and renovate hundreds of others across the country.

The court was informed that the project, which was meant to benefit 200,000 girls in the country, seemed to have been held in abeyance or the amount had been embezzled as no step had so far been taken to implement the project.

The petitioner asked the court to direct the federal government authorities to explain in what capacity the former prime minister's daughter had signed the agreement with the former first lady of the US. The petitioner had sought a direction for the NAB to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

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In the previous hearing, a deputy attorney-general had informed the SHC that he had written to the respondents, including the federal finance ministry, Maryam and the NAB, but all had yet to respond. Therefore, on his request, the court had granted him more time to submit their comments.

On Tuesday, the petitioner moved an application seeking urgent hearing on her plea. Therefore, the court issued notices to the respondents for January 23. It also issued a notice to the deputy attorney-general to file comments, along with details, relating to the programme by the next date of hearing.

‘Let Girls Learn’ is a global programme initiated by the US government to ensure that adolescent girls get the education they deserve.


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