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Fawad lands in hot water after NAB summons him in Ashiana housing scandal

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News Analysis |

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Principal Secretary to Prime Minister (PM) Fawad Hassan Fawad in Ashiana Iqbal housing scandal. NAB has been investigating the irregularities in the award of the contract of Ashiana Housing Society.

Earlier, Fawad was summoned on February 14 in connection with the irregularities in the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC). Despite the order of the court to appear on February 15, he failed to present himself before the court.

He was serving as secretary to the project director of PLDC at that time and is alleged to have used his authority unlawfully to award the contract to another company.

NAB alleges that these officials are involved in fraud, embezzlement, corruption, and misuse of authority in the project, resulting in loss of millions of rupees to the government exchequer.

In his first appearance, he showed complete alienation from Ashiana Housing Society and told the agency that he had got nothing to do with it [housing society]. He argued that though, he was the principal secretary to Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif but he had no stakes in this project.

Based on the first interrogation, he was given some selected questions to answer. Despite taking sufficiently long time, his response was deemed unsatisfactory. He was given fifteen days to answer but, he took almost a month to submit his response.

Fawad submitted his written reply to NAB but questions which required detailed answers were not replied sufficiently. Unsatisfied with his explanation submitted by the blue-eyed boy of the ruling party, NAB directed him to appear as a witness today [Thursday].

Read more: Bureaucratic corruption: Ahad Cheema arrested by NAB

Speculations are rife that knowing the importance of Fawad’s standing in incumbent governments circles, if he gets enfolded, it may lead NAB to other big guns and high profile figures in the government. According to the order issued by NAB Lahore, Fawad is accused of having possession of evidence regarding award and cancellation of contract pertaining to Ashiana-e-Iqbal Project launched by PLDC.

Fawad Hassan Fawad is one of the most influential bureaucrats of the country and was suspected of being one of the main suspects in the Dawn Leaks chain and is considered the former prime minister’s most favorite senior bureaucrat reputed to be acting as a de-facto premier.

NAB is expected to probe other projects conducted under Ahad Cheema and further names were expected to emerge. After the arrest of Ahad Cheema, it is believed that Ashiana Housing society case might turn out to be the Panama Papers case for the Pakistan Muslim League-president and chief minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif.

Based on the first interrogation, he was given some selected questions to answer. Despite taking sufficiently long time, his response was deemed unsatisfactory. He was given fifteen days to answer but, he took almost a month to submit his response.

The stakes are high given the fact that name of all-powerful Fawad being mentioned in dispatches by NAB in the Ashiana scandal. Other than Shehbaz Sharif, other government officials have also recorded their statements before NAB. Moreover, more than dozen government officials are under arrest in the case which involves the award of a contract to a private firm.

NAB alleges that these officials are involved in fraud, embezzlement, corruption, and misuse of authority in the project, resulting in loss of millions of rupees to the government exchequer.

Read more: The Blue-Eyed mutineers

The resummons of Fawad points towards a possible breakthrough into investigation and it may lead to a connection between Shehbaz Sharif and high-level bureaucrats. There could be anomalies between his initial investigations, submitted response and facts established after the capture of Cheema with other officials.

It could be a threatening sign for the top bureaucrat because NAB only summons individuals after gathering substantial proofs pertaining to the involvement of the alleged culprits. If it remains unsatisfied with the provided replies, it could result in arrest. If Fawad is arrested, it will be a big blow to the house of Sharif, given its intimacy and alleged involvement in corruption.


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