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NA employees’ housing scheme a sordid affair

ISLAMABAD: A report detailing alleged corruption of about Rs500 million and disappearance of 1,000 kanals of land from official records will be submitted to the National Assembly soon, according to sources.

NA employees’ housing scheme a sordid affairThe scam involves a housing society that was launched in the name of the National Assembly Employees Cooperative Housing Society (NAECHS) during the late 80s. Promising to provide a permanent abode in the federal capital to over 3,000 of its members, a majority of them employees of the National Assembly, the scheme turned out to be fictitious, when in June this year, they came to know that there was no land available against which they had paid their hard-earned savings.

Constituted by NA Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, who is also chairperson of the House and Library Committee, a four-member committee headed by Sheikh Waqas Akram of PML-Q has completed its report into the scam, likely to be presented before the house in the next session. Other members of the committee included Noor Alam Khan of PPP, Anjum Aqeel Khan of PML-N and Shagufta Sadiq of MQM.

Reliable sources told Dawn a report was ready to be presented to Mr Kundi who then in his capacity as chairman of the House and Library committee would lay the document before the house.

They said that as per findings of the committee, the entire amount of cash –over Rs350 million — that was available in the society’s bank accounts, has been shown spent against various fake heads such as consultant fee, development charges, salaries etc. To prove these claims, there were no documentary evidences available, they said.

According to record, over the years the society had sold well over 1000 kanals of land scattered in suburbs of the capital. However, at the moment, the committee had only been able to retrieve just 200 kanals.

However, they said, the rest of the land was only available on papers. Successive administrations of the society, in connivance with local land mafia and the Islamabad administration, had been found robbing innocent buyers in the name of National Assembly, they said. The sources said that they could not give exact figures, but the scam definitely rant into several billions of rupees.

A deputy secretary of the National Assembly, Tariq Khakwani, who was the last administrator of the society when Mr Kundi ordered investigation into its mismanagement, has already been suspended.

Mr Shahid Jillani, another deputy secretary of the National Assembly who also headed the NAECHS before Mr Khakwani, was also grilled by the parliamentary committee.

The role of Saeed Ramzan, an ICT official who also headed the society as its administrator, also came under scrutiny.

A former Chief Commissioner of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), Fazeel Ashgar, and Deputy Commissioner Asadulllah Faiz also were unable to come up with a convincing explanation.

However, the sources said, fixing of individual responsibilities and final recommendations will be decided after the report’s presentation before Mr Kundi.

As far as the committee is concerned, it has put all record regarding the role of each and every player involved in the scam in black and white on papers, and now it is up to chairperson of the house and library committee.

The sources said that efforts were already under way to save several of the accused in the fraud.

In October this year, a 20-member special parliamentary committee of the National Assembly had presented its report on irregular lease of Pakistan Railways’ hundreds of acres of land of Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, Lahore, to a private party.

Although the committee had recommended registration of criminal cases against some former generals and confiscation and auction of their properties to recover the losses before cancelling the deal, the house is yet to make any progress on that.

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