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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Ahad Cheema, Shehbaz Sharif’s favorite civil servant, owns assets worth 600 million

In Pakistan, powerful men can easily dodge the legal system and appear to be victims after years-long legal battle. Will Ahad Cheema be made an example or powerful men in police and judiciary help him come out as another victim? Read detailed report about Cheema’s assets, worth more than 60 crores, and his contacts with Sharif family.

Accountability Court on Thursday held a hearing on assets beyond means case against former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Cheema. A witness testified in the court on the matter while the court ordered more witnesses to be brought forth for more testimonies. Till date, nine witnesses have come forth and given their testimonies in the case.

Accountability judge Amjad Nazir Chaudhry presided over the proceedings of the case. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has maintained that the principal accused Ahad Cheema has accumulated unprecedented wealth inside and outside the country.

The anti-graft watchdog has further claimed that Cheema has benami properties on his family’s name while an estimated value of Cheema’s wealth has been calculated to be around 600 million rupees.

The accountability court adjourned proceedings till March 26 while extending Cheema’s judicial remand by 14 days.

Ahad Cheema’s Arrest

Ahad Cheema, A grade-20 bureaucrat, ex-director general of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), and currently serving as CEO of Quaid-i-Azam Thermal Power Company (QATPC), was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for alleged corruption in Ashiana Housing Scheme.

Mr. Cheema was arrested after he failed to appear before the NAB to explain his position. He remained absent from appearing before the NAB despite several notices. Later on, the case got complex and the suspect found himself in troubled waters.

Read more: Politicization of Civil Services in Pakistan

In 2015, Ahad Cheema awarded a contract to Shafiq’s C-4 company that was not eligible to receive the contract, said the NAB spokesperson. A C-4 company can receive, NAB spokesperson clarified contracts up to 150 million rupees. The spokesperson also pointed out that the former LDA director general caused a loss of 455 million rupees to the national exchequer.

Shahbaz Sharif’s Right Man

Mr. Cheema is said to be a close aide of the opposition leader in the National Assembly Mr. Shahbaz Sharif. It is worth mentioning here that the then Punjab government (led by PML-N) had rejected all the allegations against Ahad Cheema. Former Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah held a press conference and explicitly accused the NAB of bypassing all rules and regulation to arrest “an honest officer”. “An inquiry is an initiative which then translates into a reference that is sent to a board for approval and only after the approval a reference is filed. And then through a court order, an arrest warrant is obtained”, he explained.

Moreover, while defending Cheema the Law Minister further said that “…but Cheema was unceremoniously arrested from his office during the inquiry stage. All the allegations of embezzlement of Rs14 billion, acquisition of land, and corruption in Quaid-a-Azam Solar Power Project are unfounded and baseless”.

Read more: Unwarranted criticism of LHC? – Saad Rasool

Sources reveal that the information received from Mr. Ahad Cheema will lead to the arrest of some other senior officers as well who have asserts beyond known sources.

Accountability court indicts Ahad Cheema

An accountability court in Lahore has indicted former director general of the Lahore Development Authority Ahad Khan Cheema in a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for possessing assets beyond his known sources of income.

The NAB has argued that Mr. Cheema has billions of rupees worth of assets beyond his known sources of income. Moreover, he kept assets under the names of his family members, including his wife Saima Ahad, mother Nusrat Afza, brother Ahmed Saood, and sister Sadia Mansoor.

Read more: Bureaucratic corruption: Ahad Cheema arrested by NAB

According to the NAB’s counsel, the suspect and his family members owned over 300 kanals of agriculture land in Hafizabad, over 190 kanals in Lahore, a flat in Hill View, Islamabad, two plots in FIA Employees Cooperative Housing Society, Islamabad, two flats and plots in Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation, Islamabad, a 10-marla plot in Faisal Town, Islamabad, two five-marla plots in Faisal Residencia Islamabad, and a three-kanal plot on Bedian Road, Lahore.