Facing the music for using the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government’s helicopter without paying a single dime, bureaucrats have called into question the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) jurisdiction to squeeze out dues from them for flying in it.
The members of the officialdom have taken great exception to the apex parliamentary body’s directives, arguing that the move to hold them accountable for using the copter for “official visits” went beyond its jurisdiction. Rather, contrary to the "unfounded assertions" of the list and those who provided it, the officials had only piled on board with members of the government officials – mostly the chief minister himself.
The criticism comes after the PAC chief Noor Alam Khan returned the list of 1,800 persons who were not entitled to utilise the helicopter to the NAB with fresh instructions to recover dues from them.
According to the list, apart from PTI chief Imran Khan, more than 40 political figures used the helicopter. PTI leader Faisal Javed took 10 free trips on the helicopter, and Imran's former wife Reham Khan as well as Abrarul Haq took two free trips each.
PTI leaders Shehryar Afridi, Hafeezullah and Amin Aslam used the helicopter, while the list also contains names of journalists – Fariha Idris, Dr Shahid Masood and Arshad Sharif.
The PAC chairman said that the money will be collected in NAB after recovery from the helicopter users, instructing NAB to check the helicopter details of the Punjab government.
The PAC also wrote a letter of appreciation to NAB for submitting the list of 1,800 people.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, a senior bureaucrat maintained that contrary to “unfounded assertions” of the committee, the trips undertaken by the officials were of official nature.
“We haven’t used this helicopter for flying back to our homes or attending weddings as we were mostly asked to join and accompany the chief minister for official visits,” he maintained.
According to the senior civil servant, there is always a manifest signed as soon as the passengers are filed onto the helicopter which contains details of each of them. As soon as the helicopter lands, the manifest is deposited into the aircraft log.
“How can somebody fly without the approval of the competent authority,” the civil servant questioned and said that those who had shared the list were “unaware of the facts”.
“Of course, how can a head constable fly in the K-P government helicopter: there must be an official visit,” the official said on the condition of anonymity since he was not entitled to speak to the media.
A list of some 48 politicians was shared with the PAC and a sum of Rs80million is pending against them.
The list, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, shows several politicians including PML-N leaders Khwaja Asif, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Abid Sher besides ANP’s Asfandyar Wali Khan and Syed Masoom Shah.
Qawmi Watan Party’s (QWP) Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and his son Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao and Jamat-e-Islami’s Sirajul Haq, Sahibzada Tariq and Habib-ur-Rehman also used the K-P government helicopter and have liabilities against them.
Similarly, Imran Khan’s former ally Jahangir Khan Tareen and PTI’s former coordinator Aun Chaudhry were also mentioned in the list.
Late inspector general K-P Police Nasir Khan Durrani, incumbent Commandant Frontier Constabulary Salahuddin Mehsood, former additional IG K-P Police Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, DIG Qazi Jamil, DIG Azad Khan, DIG Mubarak Zeb, SSP Fida Hussain, SSP Mansoor, SSP Ghulam Hussain, SSP Monim Baig, SP Afzal and SP Muhibullah, also used the helicopter.
Interestingly, besides high-ranking police officials, inspectors, sub-inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors, head constables and hawaldars also used the government chopper. However, senior K-P officials believe the trips were undertaken for official duty.
The list carries over 100 names of government officials including the principal secretary to the former prime minister, Azam Khan, principal secretary to the CM Shahab Ali Shah, secretaries, political agents from erstwhile federally administered tribal areas, a huge number of officials from forest besides officials from higher education, information, revenue, anti-corruption establishment, agriculture, Wapda and tourism departments.
Foreigners including Branda Shrader, A. Rodrigues, Maria Bejar, Chris Farmer, Tom Inskip and William Owens, Brauckmann, Wim Tjerkstra, and Wolfgang Moll also used the helicopter.
The helicopter was also used by some retired and serving military officials.
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