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February 23, 2018

ACS-led committee formed to examine Cheema’s arrest

Top Story

February 23, 2018

LAHORE: A committee headed by additional chief secretary has been constituted to examine the issue of Ahad Cheema’s arrest by NAB on account of alleged corruption in Ashiana Housing Scheme, The News has learnt.

Other members of the committee include law secretary, prosecution secretary and Advocate General Punjab. The committee has been formed during a meeting of all administrative secretaries and divisional commissioners chaired by Chief Secretary Capt Zahid Saeed (retd) here Thursday.

ACS Umar Rasul, ACS Home Maj Azam Suleman (retd) and ACS Infrastructure Mian Mushtaq were also present in the meeting. The committee would examine the matter in detail and would suggest legal course.

The participants were of the view that NAB did not follow the SOPs while arresting Ahad Cheema as it could not arrest any accused during the inquiry process. It was a planned move to malign development projects of Punjab province, they opined and added that humiliation, handcuffing of Ahad Cheema and release of his arrest picture to media is an attempt to harass the bureaucracy.

While condemning Cheema’s arrest, they said today Cheema was arrested; tomorrow same could happen to someone else. NAB has claimed that it has enough evidence against Cheema, while in fact it was collecting the evidence and according to rules NAB could not arrest a person while gathering evidence, they observed. They also discussed various options to register their protest including staging a protest, pen-down strike or taking legal course. However, majority of the participants said they should go for a legal course instead of agitation and keeping in view the majority’s opinion it was decided to opt for the legal course.

After the meeting, the chief secretary and other senior officers met the chief minister, who assured them of his cooperation in resolving the issue. He told them that the issue would be taken up in the cabinet meeting.

A senior officer present in the meeting disclosed that NAB wrote a letter to Ahad Cheema and inquired him about progress of Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power plant. However, Cheema in his response told NAB as per rules it was not authorised to inquire about progress of any project. Anyhow, he would take up the issue with board of directors and it would decide whether the record should be given to NAB or not.

The officer was of the view that Cheema’s reply to NAB on this issue, may have annoyed the NAB authorities and they decided to arrest him. Meanwhile the meeting passed a resolution to express solidarity with Ahad Cheema and appeal Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the situation. The resolution says, “the administrative secretaries and divisional commissioners in Punjab, in a meeting on Feb 22 have expressed their serious concern over the harassment and humiliation being meted out to public servants in the province by brazen misuse of authority and gross abuse of discretion for extraneous considerations by the NAB functionaries in the Punjab.

Such uncalled for actions have caused deep anxiety and sense of insecurity among the public servants which is detrimental to the normal government functioning. Federal government and Punjab government should take measures for due protection of the rights and human dignity of the public servants serving in Punjab.

It must be ensured that the NAB functionaries exercise their powers in a fair, just and transparent manner in public interest and strictly in accordance with law, adding chief justice of Pakistan, being custodian of fundamental rights, should take suo motu notice of the matter”.

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