Press Trust of india

Graft case against Pakistan’s 4 top ex-army officers reopened

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Islamabad, Feb 21: Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has decided to reopen a Rs 2 billion corruption case against four former top army officers, including an ex-chief of the ISI, for allegedly transferring prime railway land to a Malaysian firm at throwaway rates in 2001.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) yesterday decided to proceed with the case which remained dumped for 17 years due to reluctance on its part to act against military officers, the Dawn reported.

The army officers are accused of transferring tens of hundreds of acres of prime railway land in Lahore to a Malaysian firm during Gen Pervej Musharraf regime in 2001 for development of a golf course called Royal Palms Gold and Country Club at throwaway rates, the daily reported.

Last week, the Islamabad High Court held that retired military officers could not hide behind the army’s accountability process.

“The meeting (on Tuesday) authorised filing of a reference against former railways minister retired Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, former railways chairman retired Lt Gen Saeed Uz Zafar, former GM retired Maj Gen Hamid Hassan Butt, former member railways retired Brig Akhtar Ali Baig and several other civilian officials,” A NAB spokesman was quoted as saying by the daily.

Retired Lt Gen Qazi had served as the director general of the ISI and retired Lt Gen Saeed Uz Zafar was a former Peshawar corps commander.

Military officials were summoned by the NAB in the same case in 2012 for recording their statements but nothing was done against them.

The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly in its meeting on September 14, 2012, had called for the cancellation of the controversial agreement.

It had recommended a fresh bidding for the land and also called for strict disciplinary action against the former bosses of the railways, including the three retired generals, who had endorsed the agreement.

A comprehensive report issued by the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Railways on allotment of land for setting up the club in Lahore had found several financial and administrative irregularities and recommended prosecution of all members of the railways executive committee.

The Federal Investigation Agency had started a separate investigation on the special committee’s instruction and its report said 141 acres had been allotted at a nominal price, causing a loss of Rs 4.82 billion to the national exchequer because the land utilisation charge had been reduced from Rs 52.43 to only Rs 4 per square yard.

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