PM-backed anti-graft drive in Punjab starts hurting politicians, bureaucracy

February 22,2019

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s choice- Hussain Asghar, Director General Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab (ACEP)- is facing extreme resistance from the provincial political leadership as well as bureaucracy for his anti-corruption drive that only in four months has already recovered Rs58b assets but in return angered many mighty and powerful.

Credit, however, goes to Prime Minister Imran Khan who continues to be the only support for Hussain Asghar despite the fact that during the ongoing anti-corruption drive in Punjab five to six FIRs on corruption charges have been registered by ACEP against ruling PTI and PML-Q MPs. Interestingly no corruption case worth registration of FIR against the PML-N and PPP MPs has been found as yet.

FIRs have also been registered during these months against top officials of LDA, some Deputy Commissioners and other officers appointed by the PTI government. No case of corruption against Shahbaz Sharif, who ruled the province for ten months, or any of his cabinet minister has been found so far.

Informed sources said that Imran Khan has given Hussain the mandate of digging out corruption cases and go after the corrupt without any fear and favour and without bothering to inform the Prime Minister even if any of premier’s blood relation is found involved in any case.

Except Imran Khan, the sources said, no one either in the PTI or PML-Q, the ruling coalition partners, wants Hussain Asghar to continue because of his actions and recoveries of state assets from powerful and mighty. The top provincial bureaucracy is also not pleased with Hussain Asghar, whose operations including against illegal and unauthorised wedding marquees have started hurting the powerful and well-connected people.

The Punjab’s ACE, which used to recover rupees one to two billion annually, under Hussain Asghar during the last four months have made total recoveries (including cash and state land) of Rs58 billion. But despite his outstanding performance, both the political leadership of the province and bureaucracy wants to get rid of Asghar, who is known for his integrity and repute.

In a case of protected forest land, which was illegally given to a private housing society in Rawalpindi, an FIR has been registered by the ACE against some Bureaucrats holding key positions in Punjab during Musharraf’s tenure. In the same case, the ACE found some leading political partners of the PTI to have benefitted in term of getting around two hundred kanals of land transferred to their and their family members’ name.

Besides these highly influential political leaders of the present ruling class, a PTI MPA from Rawalpindi has also been booked in a corruption case. A PML-Q MPA from Sargodha and again an influential PTI MP from Attock have also been booked in corruption cases by the ACEP. Another government MPA is alleged to have been involved in getting illegal access using state land for the benefit of the housing society that he owned through a benamidar.

Some leading hotel managements also got enraged after the ACEP moved against illegal and unauthorized wedding marqees in the province.

Sources said that the LDA officials are really disturbed after the ACE Punjab lodged FIR against them following proper probe done by the body.

One of the FIRs relates to a case where the construction of a stadium without seeking the approval of authority, was started. There was a Central Park but it was converted into a stadium. A few residential plots were also included into that stadium. A road was also disrupted to use that space in stadium.

The LDA, the sources said, made an agreement with a cricket club in back dates despite the fact that the LDA could not make such agreement with a private entity as per LDA laws. Additionally there were no terms and conditions attached to the agreement.

The sources added that no tender was invited and an area of 52 kanals was handed over to a private club to use it as per it desires. Moreover, according to the ACE sources, the LDA officers had facilitated a private entity to encroach upon the government land.

Another FIR against the LDA pertains to a planning permission granted by LDA to a private housing scheme which was later withdrawn. The NOC was allegedly issued despite knowing the facts that there is a land of central government between the society and the Raiwind Road. The society’s management, according to the ACE sources, soon after the issuance of the NOC built a direct access to Raiwind road using central government’s land.

After one and a half month, the LDC withdrew the NOC but by that time the management of the said housing scheme had achieved its objective of constructing the access road.


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