Lahore accountability chronicles in 2004
By Hassnain Qureshi
LAHORE: Accountability courts in Lahore convicted several politicians, including former National Assembly deputy speaker, elected representatives, officials of defunct cooperative bodies and public servants during 2004.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was established through the National Accountability Bureau Ordinance, 1999 (No. XVIII of 1999) to eradicate corruption and hold accountable people accused of corrupt practices. The Ordinance provides for the detection, investigation, prosecution and speedy disposal of cases through accountability courts established throughout the country.
Politician convicted during 2004: On June 9, Shaukat Ali Dogar, former Multan mayor, was convicted for on corruption charges. Shaukat was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was fined Rs 1 million.
NAB had alleged that Shaukat, while he was mayor in 1992-1993, withdrew Rs 3,073,375 from municipal corporation funds to purchase a new Toyota Land Cruiser for the official fleet, but he did not purchase the car and added a used car to the fleet instead. On June 15, Haji Nawaz Khokhar, former National Assembly deputy speaker, was convicted. He was sentenced to three years in jail and was fined Rs 1,896,000 in a fraud case. The court, however, acquitted his accomplices and former tehsildars Farrukh, Nadeem and Fayyaz and patwaris Zulifqar Ahmad, Bashir Ahmad and Ghulam Muhammad.
NAB had alleged in the reference that Mr Khokhar and his accomplices had evaded registration fees Rs 18,98,644 in purchasing property from 1990 to 1993.
On August 7, Salahuddin Dogar, former Punjab Assembly member and former Multan mayor, was sentenced to five-year in prison and was fined Rs 7,016,384 in a corruption case.
NAB had alleged that Salahuddin, while being mayor from 1988-1992, misused his authority in realising taxes from various companies, including Khan Brothers, Ali Husnain and Company, Qazi Ghulam Abbas and Company, Mirza and Company, Panjtan Pak Corporation, Friends Corporation and Hafiz and Company. He was also accused of illegally awarding toll tax to his favourites and causing a total Rs 7 million loss to the national exchequer.
Cooperative scam convicts during 2004: On May 24, Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, a former National Industrial Cooperative Finance Corporation (NICFC) executive, was sentenced to ten years in prison and was fined Rs 5 million. Mr Majeed was accused of giving an over Rs 71 million loan to businessman Azizul Haq Qureshi. However, Mr Qureshi was released after a plea-bargaining with NAB.
On July 29, Wali Mohammad of Milli Cooperative was sentenced to ten years and was fined Rs 50 million in a corruption case.
On October 2, Arshad Mahmood, former National Industrial Cooperative Credit Corporation manager, to seven years imprisonment and fined him Rs 20 million in a corruption reference. Arshad’s co-accused Mahmood Khan was sentenced to three years imprisonment for not appearing in the court. The court also issued his perpetual arrest warrants ordering that whenever he would be arrested, he should be produced for trial.
Public servants convicted in 2004: On February 21, Najamuddin Dar, a tehsildar, was sentenced to ten years in jail and fined him Rs 500,000 in an illegal assets case. Dar’s accomplice Maqsood, a former patwari, was sentenced to five years imprisonment and was fined Rs 500,000.
On March 3, Sardar Nasim, former clerk in the Lahore deputy commissioner’s office, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and was fined Rs 2.5 million in an illegal assets case. The court also confiscated his 500 kanals land. On July 14, Shiekh Muhammad Aslam, former Multan Income Tax assistant commissioner, was sentenced to ten years in prison and was fined Rs 500,000 in an illegal assets case. The court also confiscated his flat in Islamabad. On July 21, Abid Ali Shad, a former Pakistan Railways (PR) senior freight transportation manager, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment and was fined Rs 500,000 while accounts officers Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez and Khalid Mahmood Tariq were sentenced to five years in jail and were fined Rs 300,000 each in the PR uniform scam. They were accused of embezzlements in uniform supply tenders.
Of 11 applications received from contractors, only six were short-listed out of which Shahrukh Mahmud owned five. Mr Mahmud allegedly supplied uniforms worth Rs 97.53 million but received Rs 202.81 million in connivance with Mr Shad and his accomplices. The convicts were also accused of setting uniform store on fire to eliminate incriminating evidence.
The courts disqualified all the convicts from contesting elections, holding public offices or obtaining loans from financial institutions or banks for the next 10 years under Section 15-C of the NAB Ordinance 1999.
Acquittals: The courts in Lahore, however, acquitted Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, former Punjab chief minister and Punjab Assembly speaker, and Tikka Muhammad Iqbal, former Punjab minister in Mr Wattoo’s cabinet, because the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had withdrawn two cases against them on December 4.
NAB said that it found the accused innocent during re-investigation on which Judge Karamat Ali Sahi accepted the withdrawal request and acquitted Iqbal and Wattoo.
In the first reference, NAB had alleged that Iqbal, in connivance with chief minister Wattoo, pressed the Food Department on November 29, 1994 to purchase 3,000 bales of jute bags worth Rs 29.2 million when the procurement season had expired. It was further alleged that the payment of Rs 29.2 million resulted in a six-month delay in repayment of loans to banks and the Food Department had to pay an interest of Rs 22.2 million. The bags were purchased at an excessive rate of Rs 2.50 per bag and Rs 22.5 million were paid and thus the department faced a total loss Rs 44.7 million loss.
In the second reference, it was alleged that Iqbal caused an over Rs 20.74 million loss by approving purchase of jute bags after the wheat season had expired. The purchase had also affected the repayment of loans. Both the cases were made during Nawaz Sharif’s second regime and were transferred from an anti-corruption court to the accountability court.