Tuesday September 26, 2023

LHC to take up bail plea of Ahad Cheema today

March 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Ahad Cheema — the longest serving National Accountability Bureau (NAB) detainee was assessed by every supervisory officers and all the chief secretaries of Punjab who placed him in “Outstanding” category in his Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) for the last ten years from 2008 to 2017. The Lahore High Court (LHC) will take up his bail plea today (March 24).

The synopsis of PERs (Personal Evaluation Reports) also called ACR (Annual Confidential Reports) of Ahad Cheema for last ten years from 2008 to 2017 shows that all the chief secretaries assessed and evaluated Ahad Khan Cheema as “Outstanding” a category specially inserted in ACRs in exceptional cases only.

The bail application of Mr Cheema has been pending disposal since last one year. Ahad Cheema was arrested by the NAB on February 21, 2018 initially in the Ashiana Housing Scheme. However, except him all the accused in this case including Shahbaz Sharif, Fawad Hasan Fawad and other baboos have been granted bails by superior courts.

As per official documents, Javed Aslam, Chief Secretary, Punjab, who retired in 2015 as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, termed Cheema an excellent officer, who is self-motivated and works well with minimal supervision. He is mature for his age and can be groomed into an effective polity planner with the right exposure over next few years. He further added, “An innovative officer who has the ability to come up with fresh ideas and the perseverance to actually implement innovations.” He termed his performance in 2008-9 simply “Outstanding”.

Javed Mahmud, who retired as Punjab Chief Secretary, while assessing Cheema’s performance in 2009 wrote, “Working with Mr Ahad Khan Cheema was a real-life time pleasure for his initiative, drive, courage, clarity and speed; what a wonderful and rare professional. I just cannot and perhaps no body can, appreciate and recognise him enough for his services to the extension, restoration and preservation of the civil secretariat. It will only be unfair for the province (if) not being able to utilise his unfathomable potential for the benefit of the country. Simply matchless. –Outstanding”.

Nasir Mahmud Khosa, under whom Ahad Cheema Served a Secretary Higher Education, wrote in his assessment in 2010," The officer, during the period under review, had done exceptionally well with regard to the job, tasks and achievements- he has impeccable integrity-an extremely efficient, responsible, dedicated, trustworthy and reliable officer. Works with passion and delivers tasks assigned with poise, effectively and efficiently.-Outstanding.”

Nasir Mahmud Khosa, while assessing Ahad Cheema’s performance as Director General Lahore Development Authority (LDA), declared Cheema- “An asset to the Government and fit for accelerated promotion”- a rare recommendation in civil service.

Present Director General of Civil Service Academy, Sohail Amir, who supervised Ahad Khan Cheema as Secretary Housing in Punjab, wrote in 2011-2012 “Mr Cheema, being head of the executing agency responsible for construction of mass transit project (MBS) in Lahore, exhibited outstanding ability to coordinate with all stakeholders and supervise the work. He performed his job with complete commitment and dedication. -he is honest.” He further elaborated by stating “Mr Cheema, exhibited an outstanding ability to plan, organise, coordinate and supervise the Metro Bus Infrastructure Project, Lahore – a flagship project of the government of Punjab. -Outstanding”.

Dr Arshad Mahmud presently Additional Finance Secretary while evaluating the officer wrote, “Ahad has exceptional conceptual clarity about planning & development paradigm. His skills can best be utilised in mega project financing and implementation challenges, especially those initiatives which offer cross-cutting challenges. He is very suitable for challenging and innovative tasks both in corporate and public sector modes. -Outstanding.”

Mr Waseem Mukhtar presently Additional Secretary Power, and Managing Director of Pakistan Power Company, also supervised Ahad Cheema in LDA in 2013-2014, he held him, as “An officer with exceptional qualities both as a leader and as a subordinate. His approach is rational and innovative. He can sustain pressures and accomplish challenging tasks. -irreproachable integrity”, he further elaborated by writing “Ahad Khan Cheema is an outstanding officer with reference to his competence and dedication to his assignment. He has ability to organise meticulously and under his supervision, LDA has seen a turn around. He has introduced transparency in official business, efficiency and cost effectiveness in development projects. -Give him any challenge he will accomplish it by the Grace of Allah (SWT). He is capable of holding higher position - Outstanding.”

Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan, presently Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, and former Chairman FBR, supervised Ahad Cheema in his last assignment when he was CEO of Quaid-i-Azam Power Company, entrusted to set up the 1156MW Bhikki power plant, Jahenzeb Khan was then, Additional Chief Secretary Energy and Planning, Punjab. He declared Ahad “- Outstanding- and an officer well-groomed to hold office of Secretary to government.” He further said, “Ahad is an outstanding officer who is an asset for the civil service.”

Ahad Cheema’s well-wisher and friend who shared the above synopsis with The News, further claimed that total estimated cost of all projects undertaken by Ahad Cheema was roughly Rs280 billion, excluding LDA City which itself is a multi-billion dollar project. The savings and financial contributions of Ahad Cheema, running into hundreds of billions of rupees may actually surpass NAB’s total claim of direct and indirect recovery in its 20 years of existence.

As DCO Lahore, Ahad Cheema was instrumental in fighting Dengue epidemic of 2011 which according to all international experts was a miraculous reversal of epidemic. A successful anti-encroachment drive was also launched in Lahore in his tenure as DCO Lahore, in which state properties worth billions of rupees were recovered

In 2009-10, Ahad Cheema also served as Secretary Higher Education in Punjab, where he introduced numerous reforms. His strategic plan was followed as guiding document by his successors. During his tenure, Ahad Cheema introduced much-resisted BS programme (4-year graduation) in 26 public sector colleges. Today after 10 years, HEC has done away with two-year graduation and only 4-year graduation is being treated as recognised degree. Ahad Cheema had also served in the education reform unit (Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme), popularly known as Parha Likha Punjab Programme of Pervaiz Elahi regime in 2006-08.

It is pertinent to mention here that in Asihana case, (which never took off) in which Ahad Cheema is incarcerated in Camp Jail Lahore, Shahbaz Sharif and Fawad Hasan Fawad got bails in February 2018, Bilal Kidwai, Imtiaz Haider and other co-accused were bailed out in December 2019, Ahad Cheema is still behind the bars after more than two years. The approvers in the case were rewarded with bails as back as in May 2018. Ahad Cheema has been given bail in LDA City case after 18 months of imprisonment where NAB itself stated that the case is being closed.