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January 20, 2014

Counter-terrorism funds used for gifts, expenses, phones, flowers

January 20, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Former officials of the interior ministry and its subordinate departments used counter terrorism budget for running kitchen, offering sadqa, ordering food from five-star hotels, paying utility bills in millions, funding friends, staff and foreign trips, sending gifts to big guns and close relatives and fueling his vehicles, documents disclose.
Hardly a single penny of the secret fund allocated to National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) was used for curbing terrorism as a glance through documents indicates its massive abuse.
Around Rs500 million secret fund was earmarked for NCMC that has gone unaccounted as the lion’s share was spent by officials on salaries of the contingent staff hired to oblige friends and family relatives.
No audit has been ordered of Rs480 million secret fund of the IG, handed over to the ministry in 2008 by the IB.Pocket money of officials and charges for tailoring clothes was also being paid through the NCMC’s secret fund. Even mail charges of Rs170 each TCS dispatched to two leaders were paid through this fund.
Gifts at the marriage ceremonies of the sons of top officials; rent for the car of two leaders, and flower/sweet /donation to a Pir were financed through this fund.Telephone bill (Rs379,284) of a former official was also paid.
Whether there was a wedding ceremony of son or nephews of top officials, gifts like wrist watches, gold sets, expensive carpets, sweets and flower bouquets, all items were purchased from counter-terrorism funds.
Even military staff attached to civilian leaders received laptops and touch mates. Journalists and foreign missions would get sweets and flower bouquets from one of the top officials who afforded this public relationing through this unauthorised fund.
An official drew in millions for unexplained ‘reimbursements’ and as payment to source persons. Another official could only take liberty of benefiting from it under the head of fuel expenditures for his vehicle and

those escorting him.
Attempts were made to approach one of the top former officials for version but he declined to answer repeated phone calls and text messages sent to him for his version. However, he conveyed this message through a common contact: “Please spare me. I have risen from a humble background to the position of power.”
A look at the fuel expenses indicate that an average 0.5 million was spent per month for one official’s escort vehicles, let alone others. His blackberry mobiles and even their batteries were purchased. An official has been drawing money even after posted out.
A close aide of a former top official said, on condition of not being named, whenever the government is changed such allegations are leveled, which are never proved. He said the ministry officials are entitled to many facilities by the government.
It is possible that these facilities were mistakenly extended from counter-terrorism funds instead of the funds allocated for this purpose. He said junior staff is responsible for such a mistake. He said the government should conduct audit of the funds. He said those who received gifts or those shops and businesses from where such things were purchased could not be blamed for any wrongdoing.

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