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November 10, 2018

KPEC becomes dysfunctional after cabinet decision to disband it


November 10, 2018

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission (KPEC) has become dysfunctional after the recent provincial cabinet decision to abolish the anti-graft body.

Well-placed sources in the KP Ehtesab Commission told The News on Friday that the acting director general KPEC had stopped the internal functioning of the commission including entertaining complaints regarding corruption, inquiries and investigation into the ongoing cases of corruption. The official sources revealed that the DG KPEC had taken the decision in the light of the KP government move to wind up the Ehtesab Commission. The sources said only prosecutors were appearing in the references at trial court (Special Ehtesab Court) and in the appeals filed by the suspects in the high court.

The sources revealed that the fate of the running cases and inquiries would be decided at the time of repeal act of the KPEC. It was expected that the cases would be transferred to the Anti-Corruption Establishment.

Meanwhile, some of the employees, including investigation officers, have filed a writ petition in the high court seeking assurance of the government to be absorbed or adjusted in other departments after winding up of the commission.

Recently, the KPEC lost the right of appeal against the accused in different cases and also the decisions of Ehtesab Courts after the expiry of the term of its prosecutor general. Prosecutor General KPEC Syed Yahya Zahid Gilani's four years term ended on October 21. Interestingly, there is no process for the appointment of the prosecutor general as the provincial government through an amendment in the act had given the power to the administrative committee of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to appoint director general and prosecutor general of the commission.

However, this decision became redundant when the PHC's division bench rejected the amendments regarding empowering judiciary for the appointment of executive officers. It declared the amendments in the act as void.

The sources said that DG KPEC without lawful authority issued a notification appointing senior prosecutor, Zahid Aman, as acting prosecutor general. According to the sources, there is no mechanism to do so as the search and scrutiny committee of commissioners, which was first empowered under the act for the appointment of prosecutor general, had lost the power to do so as the amendments had also been declared void by the high court.

Prior to this development, an uncertain situation emerged after the decision of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to abolish the much-publicised KPEC. The previous PTI government established the KPEC with a lot of fanfare as it was seen as an innovative move by the party head Imran Khan to tackle corruption at the provincial level.

The new PTI government elected after the July 25 general election said the anti-graft body was being disbanded for failing to curb corruption as "it didn't perform well". However, the KPEC claimed to have achieved success despite amendments that took away its powers and made it weak. After the recent cabinet meeting, the provincial information minister and government spokesman Shaukat Yousafzai said at a press briefing that the KPEC was abolished as it had failed to deliver.

He said the Law Department would decide about the cases pending with the KPEC. However, he denied that the money of the taxpayers was wasted on the establishment of the KPEC. An insider in the commission said that major hurdles in KPEC's functioning included having an acting director general with all other officials working on contract basis, staff shortages and frequent amendments to the act.

He said that due to these hurdles and other loopholes, the KPEC has yet to work properly. He argued this was the reason that all the government officials and lawmakers, including former minister Ziaullah Afridi, arrested by KPEC and charged with corruption have been freed.

Some officials, on condition of anonymity, said if the government disbanded KPEC, then the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should take action against the persons responsible for setting it up and wasting Rs700 to Rs800 million.

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