PHC seeks record of Malam Jabba, afforestation cases

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The Peshawar High Court has directed the National Accountability Bureau to produce records of its inquiries into the alleged corruption and irregularities in the Malam Jabba Ski resort lease, Billion Tree Afforestation Programme, and Bank of Khyber appointments.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Syed Mohammad Attique Shah directed NAB deputy prosecutor general Azeem Dad to submit records to it to help it ascertain progress in inquiries into those government initiatives in the province.

It was hearing a petition filed by six civil society members, including Dr Adil Zareef, Maimoona Noor and others, who insisted that the NAB was carrying out ‘selective’ accountability against the opposition parties and had put all cases pertaining the ruling PTI on the back burner.

The petitioners complained about the NAB’s failure to act over the alleged massive administrative and financial irregularities in several key projects of the provincial PTI-led government.

They requested the court to order the placing of the Malam Jabba Ski Resort lease case before the NAB executive board in the next meeting for decision in accordance with the law.

During hearing, the bench observed that while the NAB seemed to be proactive in dealing with cases related to the opposition parties, it had kept silence about the alleged irregularities of the government in different projects.

Observes it will examine progress in NAB inquiries

Ali Gohar Durrani appeared as the lawyer for the petitioners and requested the court to declare that the NAB has failed to perform the assigned duties in relation to cases about the erstwhile the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission, corruption in the Billion Tree Tsunami project, illegal appointments to the Bank of Khyber, and irregularities in the Malam Jabba Ski resort lease and that failure is arbitrary and illegal.

He also sought the court’s orders for strict action against the relevant NAB officers over the dereliction of duty in that respect under the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999.

Mr Durrani said that the NAB chairman had promised the filing of a reference over the Malam Jabba ski resort lease in Dec 2019 but that hadn’t happened yet despite the holding of several executive board meetings.

He also said that no progress had been seen on inquiries into the BTAP irregularities and BOK appointment cases.

The lawyer wondered why there had been a striking difference in treatment meted out to the ruling PTI in comparison to the opposition parties.

He added that the discrimination in favour of the ruling elite was clearly an act amounting to a corrupt practice on part of the NAB authorities.

The bench asked the deputy prosecutor general about the records of those cases to ascertain progress.

However, the DPG sought time for the purpose.

Lawyer Durrani said that various judgments of the superior judiciary had established time and again that the NAB had been used as a tool for the victimisation of the political rivals of the current rulers.

He said that the petitioners had learned at the end of the constitutional term of the last provincial PTI government in 2018 that the KPEC, which was an absolute failure regarding the fulfilment of their duties, was part of history and the money spent on it had gone down the drain.

The lawyer said that the case regarding illegal BOK appointments was handed over to the NAB after the dissolution of the KPEC two years ago but the bureau had showed no noteworthy progress on it and the case had been pending with it since then.

The respondents in the petition are the federation of Pakistan through law secretary, interior secretary, NAB through its chairman, NAB executive board through its chairman and NAB KP director general.

Dawn News

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