PESHAWAR: The top anti-corruption watchdog in the province has sent a questionnaire to the federal defence minister and the former chief minister of the province over his alleged involvement in illegal appointments at the Pakistan-Australian Institute.
Sources said that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chapter of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had summoned former chief minister Pervez Khattak to its offices to answer questions regarding the appointments. However, owing to the minister’s busy schedule, he could not turn up.
Thereafter, a questionnaire has been dispatched for him to answer and submit to the anti-corruption body.
NAB sources suggest that Khattak is accused of abusing his powers as the body investigates reports of corruption in the institute.
While Khattak has been unable to appear before investigators, incumbent K-P Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani has already visited the NAB office to answer questions.
Sources say that Ghani, who served as the adviser to the chief minister on information and higher education during the last term of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the province, clarified that he had no link to the establishment of the Pakistan-Australia Institute in Haripur.
He told the anti-graft body that approval for the institute had been provided by the former cabinet.
NAB officials intend to record statements from Ghani and former K-P chief secretary Amjad Khan.
The body is currently investigating Khattak, Ghani and the former chief secretary for the alleged illegal appointment of the institute’s project director Dr Naseer Ali Khan while ignoring merit and specific rules.
Sources said that the then higher education secretary had allegedly demanded Rs3 million and a trip to Australia to set up the new institute.
However, the demands were opposed by the planning and finance secretaries due to its remarkable cost who instead suggested upgrading an existing institution.
However, Amjad, Ghani and Khattak approved the project while allegedly abusing their powers.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2019.