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December 3, 2019

Punjab reshuffle: Shahbaz blue-eyed officer replaces NAB’s star witness

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December 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In recent reshuffle in Punjab bureaucracy, one of the appointee by Buzdar government on a key post has faced NAB questions in Multan Metro Bus case, and he has been replaced by an officer who turned approver against former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in Ashiana Housing Scheme.

Tahir Khurshid — served as Secretary C&W and Commissioner DG Khan in Buzdar government was NAB’s star witness in Ashiana Housing Scheme. He was made approver against Shahbaz Sharif and the then secretary to CM (Implementation) Fawad Hassan Fawad. However, after enjoying key positions in first fifteen months of Buzdar government, Khurshid now has been sidelined and asked to report to Services & General Administration Department.

Tahir Khurshid has been replaced with Capt (R) Asadullah Khan as Secretary C&W. Interestingly, Asadullah Khan has remained one of the blue eyed officials of Shahbaz Sharif. He has been questioned by NAB in Multan Metro Bus scandal during Sharif’s era.

Asadullah Khan has served as Commissioner Multan during Shahbaz Sharif’s government. He was also in-charge of the Multan Metro Bus project. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after taking up Multan Metro Bus corruption case had questioned many officials including Asadullah.

It is pertinent to mention here that PTI chief while in opposition had levelled corruption allegations against Shahbaz Sharif. Imran Khan, in his public rallies, had alleged that the younger Sharif committed corruption through bureaucrats. However, it is quite surprising for many observers that the officers who served on key positions in Shahbaz Sharif-led Punjab government have now been given important postings in PTI-led government in Punjab.

As an approver against Shahbaz Sharif, Tahir Khurshid had claimed that the former CM Punjab, Former Secretary to CM (Implementation) Fawad Hassan Fawad and former DG LDA had exerted undue pressure on him to cancel the contract awarded to Ch Latif and Sons (Calsons).

NAB had presented the ground of arrest of Fawad Hassan Fawad before the court that during march 2013 the accused, by misuse of his official position and authority, with mala fide intentions and ulterior motives, and by unlawfully assuming the powers of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), board, passed unlawful direction and exerted undue pressure on the than CEO Tahir Khurshid and Project Director Syed Ali Muoazzam to cancel the legitimate contract awarded to Ch A Latif and Sons. The NAB further alleged that Fawad put undue pressure on CEO to cancel the contract.

However, the NAB’s allegations were rejected by Fawad’s Lawyer. According to him, when agreement of mutually agreed recession was signed between PLDC and Calsons in November 2013, Fawad was not serving in Punjab, but had been transferred to federal government since April 2013. Moreover, the agreement of recession was signed by Shahid Latif the then CEO PLDC, whereas NAB had alleged that secretary Fawad pressurised CEO Tahir Khurshid to cancel the agreement, whereas Tahir Khurshid was transferred many months before the agreement was rescinded through mutual agreement.

It is important to note here that, Lahore High Court in its verdict, while granting bail to former CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif in Ashiana Housing Scheme case, had ruled that the allegations of misuse of authority and canceling the first contract of the scheme against Sharif have not been supported by any documentary evidence produced by NAB.

Similarly, the LHC in its same verdict had observed that the allegation against Shahbaz Sharif that he got cancelled the contract of M/s Chaudhry Abdul Latif & Sons has also not been supported by the record of the present case because the contract was never cancelled rather the matter was settled through a written agreement with the mutual consent of the parties.

“PLDC’s former CEO Tahir Khurshid, the star-witness of the NAB, had not uttered a single word in his statement that he was pressurized by the petitioner (Shahbaz Sharif) to cancel the contract in question”, the bench observes in its judgment.

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