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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Officials use student scholarship funds to pay for membership in elite club

Top officials approved the club's monthly subscription charges to be paid by NEST which is a program for eligible and deserving students.

Two senior bureaucrats and four key officials of the National Endowment Scholarships for Talent (NEST) have landed in hot waters after it was revealed that they used the funds reserved for needy students to acquire membership in the elite Islamabad Club.

To clarify, NEST is a program for eligible and deserving students. It is an autonomous body and an additional secretary of the Ministry of Education and Professional Training heads this entity by virtue of designation.

According to the details, the NEST board of directors approved corporate membership for NEST at the club and also nominated four executive officers for the issuance of complimentary cards for the club membership. The board of directors approved the club’s monthly subscription charges to be paid by NEST.

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The former CEO also granted the approval and his successor later sanctioned the release of Rs25 million to the management of Islamabad Club for membership. However, he was suspended after the whole issue came to the limelight. The Ministry of Education wrote to the Establishment Division for his suspension.

The Ministry of Education and Professional Training shared the documents with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for forensic analysis to ascertain whether the signatures of the suspended CEO were genuine or not.

Meanwhile, the four executive officers have been dismissed from service and suffered major penalties. However, they challenged their termination at the Islamabad High Court while claiming that they had no role in acquiring the club membership.

The ministry has also asked the management of Islamabad Club to refund Rs25 million, as this amount was not issued in a transparent manner.

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Corrupt practices are rampant in Pakistan’s public sector. Earlier, Deputy Commissioner, and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) administrator, terminated the director and a deputy director of the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) due to suspected corrupt behavior.

In another instance, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has initiated an inquiry into alleged corruption cases in the Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), worth around Rs1 billion by the officers who deposited the money in personal accounts to get profit and made improper investments.