KARACHI: Despite the Sindh government’s decision to repeal the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, the accountability bureau has not budged even an inch from taking action and continuing investigations and inquiries against corrupt officials in the province.
Dr Asim registers case
Former petroleum minister and current Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Karachi President Dr Asim Hussain has registered yet another case four months after his release from prison where he was incarcerated for 19 months on corruption and terrorism facilitation charges by Rangers and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
In the fresh FIR, Dr Asim claimed that unidentified persons who ‘could be from NAB’ raided his sister’s residence in Block 6, Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society (SMCHS) within the limits of Tipu Sultan police station.
“Nearly 15 personnel in uniforms and plainclothes raided my sister’s residence,” said Tipu Sultan SHO Shahzada Saleem while quoting Dr Asim’s statement in the FIR. “This is harassment and a threat to our lives. We [believe] that the plainclothes personnel could be NAB officials,” he had said.
Dr Asim, who is a complainant in the FIR, stated that the personnel forcibly entered the residence of his sister, Dr Rubina. “As Dr Rubina was at the hospital, armed men entered the house and grabbed a watchman and held him hostage, forcing him to unlock all the rooms,” he stated in the FIR.
Family sources claimed that the armed men even ransacked all the rooms and took some important documents with them. A spokesperson for Dr Asim confirmed the registration of the FIR.
SHO Saleem also confirmed the registration of the FIR, saying that while Dr Asim suspects the personnel were from NAB, the FIR was registered against unidentified persons. He said that the case has been transferred to investigation wing.
This is the second FIR registered by Dr Asim. On April 21 he registered a case at the Boar Basin police station against an unidentified man for threatening him with a gun when he was heading towards his lawyer’s office near Teen Talwar. He had said a man in a Toyota Corolla pointed a pistol at him ‘like he wanted to shoot’ him. In that FIR, he stated that he had seen the ‘unknown man’ at the Gulberg police station while in custody.
A close aide of former president and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, Dr Asim faces corruption references pertaining to land fraud amounting to Rs9.5 billion, money laundering of Rs3 billion, and misuse of authority and criminal breach of trust through a fertiliser scam of Rs450 billion.
NAB had also accused him of illegally awarding gas contracts to a privately-managed gas processing company, Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited, to process gas from government-owned gas fields without an open auction, causing a loss of Rs17.34 billion to the national exchequer. He was also accused of providing treatment and shelter to criminals at his hospitals at the behest of leaders belonging to various political parties.
The Sindh High Court on March 29 had approved his bail plea.
Though the NAB spokesperson denied the bureau’s involvement in the raid, sources in NAB said this was the second FIR registered by Dr Asim indirectly against the bureau, allegedly to pressure it to drop the cases against him.
In another action, NAB has initiated an inquiry initiated against Sindh Information Department Director-General Sami Siddiqui, who was grilled by bureau officials on Saturday.
Officials of the information department told The Express Tribune that NAB officials approached Siddiqui regarding massive corruption cases and inquired how he has purchased properties in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Siddiqui, a grade 20 officer who has also earlier served on various positions including deputy commissioner and municipal commissioner, is accused of misappropriating government funds. “They have started an inquiry but I cannot disclose the details,” Siddiqui told The Express Tribune.
However, he said that the investigation has started against him on a private complaint. “I totally deny whatever allegations are levelled against me,” he said.
Sources said that NAB has also issued notices to more than 10 other officers working in the Sindh government.
Information Minister Syed Nasir Shah termed NAB’s action as harassment and claimed that they no longer have the mandate to investigate corruption cases in the province. “We have already passed the law to repeal the NAB ordinance, but they are attempting to pressurise Sindh government officers and citizens,” he said, adding that NAB has never proved a case in the province and all its actions are taken under mala fide intentions.
When contacted, NAB Spokesperson Rizwan Soomro was reluctant to disclose any information.