With the scheduled date for the Azadi March led by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) drawing near, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seems to be cracking down on JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani in a case of illegal appointments in the Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD).
The accountability watchdog, on Monday, incriminated PWD Director General Shahid Farzand in the same case. Farzand acquired a pre-arrest bail from the Islamabad High Court in an investigation pertaining to the recruitments in the PWD when Akram Durrani served as the Federal Minister for housing and works.
Shahid Farzand VS. NAB
Unexpectedly, when proceedings on the case began on Monday, Shahid Farzand was not present in the courtroom. His lawyer, Shah Khawar, informed the court that Mr. Shahid has been advised to avoid appearing before the NAB until the Islamabad High Court takes up his petition for pre-arrest bail.
The PWD Director-General said that he had received the call-up notice on October 9, and he appeared before the NAB investigation team
Farzand had earlier appeared before a NAB investigation team at the anti-graft body’s regional directorate of Rawalpindi. Reports revealed that his phone had been switched off since morning, while it counsel said that it seemed that the NAB authorities had taken Farzand into custody.
The Islamabad High Court division bench, consisting of Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, questioned the counsel whether he would like to convert his petition into a post-arrest bail application.
The counsel responded that he has been unable to contact his client. Afterwards, he acquired the permission of the court to withdraw the bail petition. Justice Farooq said, “In case Farzand survives, you can file this petition again.”
Sources close to the NAB proceedings said that Shahid Farzand was allowed to leave after a grilling session by the NAB investigation team. The sources maintained that the anti-corruption watchdog was providing suspects the full opportunity to prepare a defense.
Farzand’s lawyer, Shah Khawar, said that after the anti-graft body was informed of the petition for a pre-arrest bail, they awaited a final order of the court. However, he maintained that after his session with the NAB team, his client did not contact him for filing a new petition.
Ministry of Housing & Works
As the then Chief Engineer. Shahid Farzand was in-charge of the induction process in the B-1 to 15 in the PWD. In his petition for bail, Farzand said that he had obtained applications for appointments in different job roles on April 12, 2017, while the housing and works ministry had recruited ‘Job Testing Service’ as a consultant for conducting written tests.
Farzand stated that the Ministry, under JUI-F leader Akram Durrani, had set up two committees, of which of was led by him and consisted of the deputy secretary and chief administrative officer of the PWD, who finalized the recruitments.
Farzand added that he had obtained a call-up notice, under Section 19 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, titled as the “inquiry against Akram Durrani, federal minister for housing and works, officers, officials of Ministry of Housing and Works, management of JTS and others”.
Farzand alleged that the NAB has been acting with a vendetta against, and appears to have intentions to harass him and his family members.
The PWD Director-General said that he had received the call-up notice on October 9, and he appeared before the NAB investigation team, who “appreciated” his cooperation, and gave the impression that the matter has been set aside.
However, Farzand added that later he came to discover that the Chief Administrative Officer of the PWD, Mukhtar Badshah Khattak, had been arrested on October 16, hence he was also worried of being arrested.
Mr. Farzand claimed that he was involved in conducting the tests or evaluating the documents as the process of recruitments had started before he assumed the position of the PWD Director-General. He said that the testing service and the Ministry of Housing and Works was responsible for scrutinizing the documents.
He maintained that as the chairman of the committee, he had performed his job with determination and honesty. Farzand alleged that the NAB has been acting with a vendetta against, and appears to have intentions to harass him and his family members.
In his petition, Farzand requested the Islamabad High Court to grant his application for a pre-arrest bail, and instruct the NAB authorities to provide the court with information pertaining to the pending inquiry.