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November 14, 2018

JIT receives evidence of encroachment against Azam Swati

Top Story

November 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati appears to be in deep trouble, as a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted on orders of the Supreme Court has found his involvement in encroachment on the government land.

The JIT comprises National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General Irfan Mangi and top officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB). The minister had repeatedly pressed the Islamabad police to take action against a poor family of Bajaur for encroachment and later complained to Prime Minister Imran Khan against non-cooperation by the then Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Jan Muhammad.

The IGP was later removed by the government. However, the evidence of encroachment against the minister was shared with the JIT by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), sources told The News on Tuesday.

The JIT was formed to probe allegations of misuse of authority and encroachment against the minister after the Supreme Court took suo motu notice of abrupt removal of the IGP on a complaint of the PTI politician.

Sources said the JIT had also received details of Swati’s assets and accounts from the State Bank of Pakistan. Some details about Swati’s tax and assets are being sought by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). However, details have not been received so far.

The JIT has also sought a report from the FIA about Swati’s travel history. According to a report filed by Umar Cheema in The News, the minister has travelled abroad for more than 170 times in last 10 years (2008-18) which means an average 1.5 trip each month.

Sources said the team had also interviewed Swati’s son Usman and guards who were engaged in a brawl with their poor neighbours after a cow had allegedly entered Swati’s farmhouse in Islamabad on October 26.

The clash had resulted in arrest of five members of poor family led by Muhammad Niaz, including two women and one 12-year-old boy Ziauddin. The JIT has also recorded statements of Niaz and his family.

Sources said the JIT also interviewed the IGP and secretary interior while the statement of Azam Swati will be recorded prior to submission of JIT report to the Supreme Court next week. A questionnaire has been prepared to be presented to the minister.

Sources said the JIT will also question Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi about the transfer of police chief and arrest of the poor family. On November 6, the CDA had issued a notice to the minister’s wife on whose name the farmhouse is registered.

The notice also confirms encroachment by the minister on the government land and lists two other violations by him, including illegal constructions in side setback, and illegal basement construction without approval.

The CDA notice says the owner has committed violations of Islamabad Building Regulations 1963 and Islamabad Residential Sectors Zoning, Building Control Regulations, 2005, by making unauthorised constructions.

A police probe had also revealed that the cow had actually entered the land that was illegally occupied by the minister outside his farmhouse. The police officer probing the case confirmed this to The News. Talking to The News, Swati denied encroachment on the government land.

Asked about over 10 Kanal encroachment and illegal construction on the right side and at the rear door, the minister said: “This is not true. I do not own any land or cattle outside my boundary walls. Trees were planted by the previous owner about 20 years ago. I bought it in 2014. I applied to the CDA to buy this wasteland to protect trees since it fell in the dam water spill which could be of no use just like a green belt but my application was not approved. So I do not occupy any extra land at all outside my boundary,” the minister said.

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