News Analysis |
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has arrested former Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Qaiser Amin Butt in a case pertaining to the Paragon Housing Society scam. According to sources, Mr. Butt has had a 15-year long partnership with PML-N stalwart Khawaja Saad Rafique in the housing project.
It is important to mention here that the NAB has been investigating the matter since the last few months. The case came under limelight when the affectees of the project came out on roads to demand a fair and transparent investigation by the government into the Paragon Housing Society scam. Our money has been looted, protestors alleged.
Former Railway minister Khawaja Saad and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique also allegedly acquired 50 Kanal of land in the Paragon city.
Moreover, the former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Khan Cheema and others are already in custody over the allegations of corruption in Ashiana Iqbal Housing Society scam. It is worth reminding that the Punjab government (led by the PML-N) completely 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 after approval, a reference is filed. And through a court order, an arrest warrant is obtained”, he explained.
Moreover, while defending Cheema the former 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”.
Former Railway minister Khawaja Saad and his brother Khawaja Salman Rafique also allegedly acquired 50 Kanal of land in the Paragon city. It has emerged that they exchanged the land with Paragon city. The recent documents show that they gave their land to Paragon City and bought land in Paragon City.
The PTI government has led a massive crackdown against encroachments and land mafias in an effort to stop corruption and improve law & order.
The exchange documents show the equal exchange which is in contradiction with the existing laws. According to law, if 50 Kanal and is given to the society, it could receive only 30% of the land in exchange, but Khawaja brothers illegally received the land on equal terms.
Khawaja Saad appeared before a three-judge bench on the direction of Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar who summoned him to explain his position on alleged links with Paragon City and a twin tower project in Islamabad. Saad acknowledged that he helped the company in acquiring a small piece of land in 2010-12 and received a commission for rendering his services, which is mentioned in his tax statement.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had also been questioned by the NAB in the scam. He has been accused of ordering cancellation of the contract of Aashiana-e-Iqbal to a successful bidder, leading to the award of the contract to another builder, which resulted into a loss of Rs 193 million approximately,” the notice reads.
He also directed PLDC to assign the project of Aashiana-e-Iqbal to LDA resulting into an award of contracts to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV), thus causing loss of Rs 715 million approximately and ultimately failure of the project, according to the notice.
Read more: NAB: Misguided Jihad is far more dangerous?
The land has become the lucrative source of money in the urban centers and mainly the Punjab province. The PML-N has garnered a notorious reputation due to its linkages to the land mafia and Qabza groups. The PTI government has led a massive crackdown against encroachments and land mafias in an effort to stop corruption and improve law & order.