Ahad Cheema’s arrest: Punjab Assembly condemns NAB’s ‘illegal, immoral’ acts

Opposition lawmakers stage walkout condemning the resolution


Rana Yasif February 28, 2018
PHOTO: Online/FILE

LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly has adopted a resolution, condemning the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for ‘harassing and humiliating’ government officials and engaging in their character assassination by advertising their arrests in the media before presenting them in courts.

Provincial legislators from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Wednesday took benefit of the absence of the opposition legislators in the house and got it passed with majority vote.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah read the resolution that called such acts of NAB as ‘illegal and immoral’ and demanded that ‘all institutions including NAB’ ensure respect for the Constitution, human rights, human dignity and moral values.

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“The house expresses its strong reservations over all NAB’s actions which are in contravention of the principles of human right and dignity. The Constitution of Pakistan guarantees respect for all citizens.

“The house also demands of the federal government that this matter be discussed in parliament and appropriate measures be taken,” it said

The resolution also demanded constitutional amendment in NAB Ordinance 1999 to curb excesses meted out by NAB and to strike down the section relating to plea-bargain ‘which actually paves the way to the corrupt people go scot-free’.

The resolution was presented in the backdrop of the arrest of former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Khan Cheema in connection with the Ashiana-e-Iqbal Housing Scheme, a scam in which NAB has already quizzed Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif last month.

The accountability watchdog had claimed that Cheema received illegal gratification in the form of 32 kanals, valued at approximately Rs30.09 million, for awarding a contract worth Rs14 billion for the Ashiana project to Lahore CASA Developers, a joint venture (JV) which was ineligible for the contract.

After Cheema’s arrest, the civil servants had started a protest and also passed a resolution against the NAB action. A high-level delegation of the bureaucracy had met Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and presented a charter of demands.

On Wednesday, the proceedings of the provincial assembly started with the members of the ruling party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) making personal attacks on each other’s leaders. Slogans were even raised against the wives of Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif.

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When the house proceedings started at 10:53am, the opposition pointed out lack of quorum. The government, however, succeeded in showing up required numbers. The speaker also adjourned proceeding when a PTI MPA pointed out that department secretary was not present.

On February 23, the opposition did not let the government run house proceedings after the speaker did not allow them to speak against Ahad Cheema, who was promoted to next grade during NAB’s custody.

On Feb 26, the house had to be adjourned again when the opposition demanded an explanation from CM Shehbaz over Faisal Subhan’s confessional statement in China with regard to Multan Metro. On Feb 27, the house was adjourned again over Subhan’s issue.

But on Wednesday, the government managed to get the resolution passed after the ruckus in the house settled. Opposition lawmakers later also protested outside the assembly against the resolution.

 

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