ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided on Wednesday to investigate ‘vigorously’ a shady land deal involving former housing minister Rehmatullah Kakar.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the bureau’s executive board which was presided over by NAB Chairman Syed Deedar Hussain Shah.
The issue of the deal involving billions of rupees was brought to the notice of the bureau a couple of months ago when Mr Kakar’s party, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), was still part of the government. After some preliminary work, NAB decided to investigate the case formally.
A NAB spokesman said the meeting discussed the acquisition of 3,000 kanals of land near Barakahu area of Islamabad for the federal government employees housing scheme by the ministry at exorbitant prices.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman criticised the move and said any action by NAB against the former minister would be resisted.
“We will squeeze those who will take action against us,” he told reporters.
He said: “We do not recognise the institution (NAB) which was set up by a dictator”.
Some 3,000 kanals of land was purchased in the Simly Dam Road area in Zone-IV of Islamabad last year from a private firm Green Tree for the project under the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme. The project was to be executed by the same firm.
Sources said that the resignation of the housing minister, which has not yet been accepted by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, upset officials of the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation involved in the deal and they feared possible action by NAB and a standing committee of the National Assembly.
The spokesman said that NAB would look into complaints against officers responsible for wasting public funds.
Mr Kakar, meanwhile, issued a statement on the letterhead of the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation saying he had nothing to do with the deal.
He ruled out the possibility of failure or wrapping up of the scheme.
He said: “The question of wrapping up of the scheme after his resignation is totally irrelevant because the minister is not the member of the executive committee and the scheme will continue. It has nothing to do with any outgoing and incoming minister.”
The controversial deal is also being investigated by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Housing and Works because the land had been purchased at exorbitant price in an area where housing was not allowed.
“The committee noticed marked difference in the market value of the land,” a member of the NA standing committee said.