The 23 prisoners set free by the district and sessions judge a few days back will get to spend Eid with their families. However, the same will not be the case for several government officials in jail for alleged corruption.
The released prisoners were those who committed minor crimes, but in contrast, nearly 10 former and serving government officials are at Central Prison Peshawar because the National Accountability Bureau arrested them for embezzling the public’s money, and their cases are pending in court.
Over the past few months NAB has completed several enquiries into corruption and filed references in court against high-profile accused persons, which include, former IGP Malik Naveed, former CM Amir Haider Hoti’s brother Amir Ghazan Hoti and relative Raza Ali Khan.
The other officials in jail include Workers Welfare Board Secretary Muhammad Tariq Awan, Mardan DSP Rajab Ali, Abbottabad Regional Tax Office Commissioner Asif Haider Orakzai, Upper Division Clerk Muhammad Sadiq, Lower Division Clerk Ali Afsar, former Provincial Housing Authority director general Muhammad Javed and Abbottabad Tax Officer Masoodur Rehman.
NAB has unearthed a billion-rupee weapons scam in which serving and retired police officials are said to be involved. According to the bureau, in 2008, out of a Rs7 billion contract for the procurement of weapons and other equipment for the police, a total of Rs2.03 billion was embezzled.
NAB arrested former IGP Malik Naveed on November 20, 2013 and he spent 56 days in custody after which he was sent to prison. Similarly, Amir Ghazan Hoti was arrested on April 15 and his request for an extension in his pre-arrest bail has been denied by the Peshawar High Court.
Raza Ali Khan, the former CM’s relative, was arrested on January 6 and he spent 24 days in NAB’s custody after which he was shifted to prison.
The bail applications of both Malik Naveed and Raza Ali were rejected on April 15 and since then they have been behind bars.
Misuse of authority
Muhammad Tariq Awan, the secretary of the Workers Welfare Board, was arrested on April 25 for allegedly being involved in illegal appointments, ‘selling’ scholarships and violation of rules in acquiring land for welfare projects for labourers.
Meanwhile, Mardan DSP Rajab Ali was arrested on April 18 for his alleged involvement in acquiring illegal assets while serving in the provincial police at various posts. A corruption reference of Rs14.6 million has been filed in the accountability court and he is in jail.
Similarly, Muhammad Javed, the former director general of the Provincial Housing Authority was arrested on April 10 for misusing his authority and embezzling Rs400 million while purchasing land for a housing project in Abbottabad in 2012. Two others were also arrested in connection with the case.
Defrauding the public
On March 25, Abbottabad Regional Commissioner Asif Haider Orakzai and clerks Muhammad Sadiq and Ali Afsar were arrested for swindling millions from the victims of the 2005 Abbottabad earthquake.
On the pretext of providing assistance to the affected persons, the accused officials collected signed cheques from them in 2008 and 2009 and then allegedly prepared bogus income tax refund certificates. A corruption reference of Rs83.3 million has been filed against these officials as well as four civilians.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2014.
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