The Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Usman Buzdar, the Minister for Aviation, Ghulam Sarwar, and the former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari, have been cleared in the Rawalpindi Ring Road corruption scandal.
A report submitted by the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to the Prime Minister disclosed that three bureaucrats have been found guilty of embezzlement, misuse of authority, and conflict of interest. Accordingly, a case has been registered against Rawalpindi Commissioner, Muhammad Mehmood, former Deputy Project Director, Muhammad Abdullah, and Land Acquisition Collector, Waseem Ali Tabish.
While addressing a press conference, ACE DG, Gohar Nafees, said that two of the officers, Mehmood and Tabish, are already in prison.
“The findings of the ACE are based on an inquiry team analyzing 21,000 documents and interrogating 100 officers,” the official added.
Earlier, two members of the federal cabinet, SAPM Zulfi Bukhari and Minister Ghulam Sarwar, had been linked to the scandal by the opposition and some media outlets. The opposition had claimed that the ACE inquiry was meant to give a clean chit to political bigwigs by sacrificing pawns.
However, DG Nafees had rebutted the notion during the presser. When questioned about whether the inquiry was politically influenced, he said, “It is for the first time in the history that the Punjab ACE has arrested an officer of the rank of the commissioner”.
He noted that the accused had made the decision of “illegal alignment, compensations, awards, etc.,” without the approval of any higher authorities.
The ACE had found evidence that the alignments of the project had been changed to benefit housing societies for monetary gains, and DG Nafees noted that the arrested officials had caused a loss of billions of rupees to the national exchequer through the illegal alignments.