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September 11, 2015

Ziaullah Afridi accuses CM, others of victimisation


September 11, 2015

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtun- khwa’s detained former minister for Mines and Minerals Development Ziaullah Afridi made the most of his production in the provincial assembly here Thursday by accusing Chief Minister Pervez Khattak of politically victimizing him by implicating him in a false case of corruption.
The legislator from PK-1 Peshawar constituency who was arrested by the Ehtesab Commission on July 9 last, was for first time produced in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Thursday. Speaker Asad Qaiser had issued his production orders.
Just after completing the agenda proceedings, the Speaker gave the floor to Ziaullah Afridi who first lauded the opposition members for playing a role in enabling him to attend the assembly session. He said the Speaker had no role in it as he was produced in the House on a strong demand by the opposition.
In his lengthy speech, Ziaullah Afridi said he was arrested on the directives of chief minister, otherwise smugglers were part of the provincial cabinet and people involved in corruption were going scot-free.
He lashed out at the inspector general of police (IGP) and director general (DG) Ehtesab Commission and alleged that they were acting on the directives of the chief minister.
“It is ironic that I was arrested on charges of misuse of power through a conspiracy to malign me and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). It was said that I did embezzlement of four billion rupees in the last two years but interestingly the total revenues of my department is not more than Rs 300 million,” he argued.
Calling the provincial police chief Nasir Khan Durranu a “cosmetic IGP”, Ziaullah Afridi claimed that he had got registered 97 cases of illegal mining only in Mamakhel, Nowshera and the majority of the accused belonged to Manki Sharif, the village of the chief minister but not a single accused was arrested. The Speaker, however, ordered that the word “cosmetic IGP” should be expunged from the proceedings.

“I wrote letters to the chief minister, IGP and commissioners of Peshawar, Hazara and Bannu divisions and also to the deputy commissioner and district police officer of Nowshera about illegal mining, but no action was taken against the accused. Instead I was implicated in the case on illegal mining charges,” he complained. He alleged that the police had the main role in facilitating illegal mining.
The former minister said illegal mining had been going on for the last 30 years but only he and Director General of the department Dr Liaqat Ali were arrested. “Why others involved in the practice weren’t arrested?” he posed a question.
Ziaullah Afridi revealed that he was asked 112 questions during his 48 days in captivity. He alleged that the Ehtesab Commission investigator Behram who belonged to Nowshera took his picture and put it in the social media despite the fact that no picture of the 31 other accused arrested on different charges was released.
He asked the director general of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission to make public the 20 questions the Commission asked from an important personality. He didn’t reveal the name of this person.
The sacked minister alleged that people expelled from government service on charges of corruption were appointed in the Ehtesab Commission.
He complained that the Peshawar High Court granted bail to several accused except him and Dr Liaqat Ali. He also said the government amended the Ehtesab Commission Act just for his case to deny him bail.
An emotional Ziaullah Afridi questioned the Ehtesab Commission’s silence over corruption in the Forest Department and in the construction of small dams and demanded arrest of the relevant minister.
He asked the Speaker to convene a meeting of the PTI Core Committee in the assembly and also invite elected nazims from Peshawar’s Town-I and senior journalists so that he could present his case before them.
The former PTI minister hoped he would be acquitted honourably and all the charges against him would prove false. He thanked his supporters and said the people he nominated in the local government elections won election and among them was the district nazim of Peshawar Arbab Asim.
In response to Ziaullah Afridi’s speech, Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman said accountability was part of the PTI manifesto and all those involved in corruption would be brought to justice. However, he said insulting any member of this august House would not be allowed.
The minister said amendments were made to the Ehtesab Commission Act and the opposition was requested to furnish suggestions for making the law flawless. He said there was unanimity over conducting of fair and just accountability but difference existed over its modus operandi.
“It is our unanimous opinion that investigation against a person accused of corruption should be completed before arrest as it was unjustified to arrest an accused without obtaining complete proof,” he added.
Sardar Hussain Babak, the ANP parliamentary party leader, also criticized the Ehtesab Commission. He wanted to know the need for the Ehtesab Commission in the presence of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Anti-Corruption Establishment and other departments.
He said people were being insulted in the garb of accountability and ANP leaders were also threatened with arrest. “The General sahib should know that the Pashtuns neither forget insult nor forgive those who insult them,” he warned while clearly referring to the Ehtesab Commission director general Lt Gen (Retd) Hamid Khan.
He expressed the fear any lawmaker might face the fate of Ziaullah Afridi and asked the Speaker to take notice of the honour of the House.
Earlier, emotional supporters of Ziaullah Afridi received him in front of the assembly building by chanting slogans in his favour and dancing to the tune of drumbeat.

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