PESHAWAR: The Ehtesab Commission court granted a 13-day physical remand of Minister for Mines and Minerals Ziaullah Afridi to the commission on Friday.
Afridi has been accused of abusing the authority of his office, of posting and transferring officials without following protocols and of causing the exchequer losses worth billions of rupees.
The minister, who is from the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was arrested on Thursday by the commission. In a hand-out issued by Ehtesab the same day, Afridi was accused by the commission of misappropriation of funds which caused “losses worth billions of rupees” to the provincial exchequer.
On Friday, the prosecutor told the court that Afridi was not cooperating with the provincial accountability authority.
Afridi, however, had plenty to say about his arrest.
“It’s not the Ehtesab Commission but the Pervez Commission. I have been falsely accused but (as history shows us) even holy personalities were falsely persecuted so I will defend myself,” said the mines minister. “I was also punished for opposing Pervez Khattak for bringing Qaumi Watan Party back into the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government.”
According to Afridi, he was being punished for filing cases against “Khattaks people in various mining-related cases. And for denying or stripping his people of licences.” In May, chromite mine owners had accused the CM’s relatives of trying to forcibly take over their mineral reserves.
On Thursday, the Ehtesab Commission picked up the minister and the National Accountability Bureau arrested 10 other current and former officials. Though the two bodies have separate jurisdictions, all those detained were said to be involved in corruption in the same department – mines and minerals.
The 10 arrested by NAB were granted judicial remand on Friday.