Pakistan’s main anti-corruption agency is preparing a case against three retired army generals, including an ex-ISI chief, for their alleged involvement in a fraudulent deal whereby land of the state-run railways was leased to a golf club at a throwaway price.
Investigators and the legal team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) are preparing the case against the former generals, NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal was quoted as saying by the Dawn. However, he could not confirm when the case would be filed in court.
NAB will be in a position in a few days to officially make an announcement about the case, which is being prepared on the basis of a comprehensive investigation into the scam undertaken on the directives of the Supreme Court.
The case, if filed, will be the first by NAB against any general since the Pakistan People’s Party-led government came to power in 2008. The case of the generals is not being sent to the army and will be pursued by NAB, Iqbal said.
Former Railways Minister Lt Gen (retired) Javed Ashraf Qazi, who also served as head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Lt Gen (retired) Saeed-uz-Zafar and Maj Gen (retired) Hamid Hassan Butt are accused of illegally leasing out 141 acres of railways land to Royal Palm Golf Club in Lahore in 2001.
The move reportedly caused losses of billions of rupees to the national exchequer. The case has been investigated by different organisations since 2007. The three generals appeared before NAB sleuths on November 1 to record their statements.
NAB said it had forced the golf club to renew the lease agreement with the railways and to pay an additional amount of Rs 16 billion.
The Supreme Court had taken notice of the land deal and completed its hearing of the matter in March last year. It is yet to issue a judgment.
The investigation against the three generals and another recent Supreme Court judgement that held former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Asad Durrani responsible for rigging the 1990 polls have reportedly angered the powerful military.
In a recent strongly worded statement, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said, without naming the apex court, that no single institution could define national interests or exceed its role under the Constitution.
Court bench hearing petition against Kayani dissolved
A bench of a Pakistani court that was to take up a petition challenging an extension granted to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was dissolved on Tuesday after the government did not issue a notification extending the tenure of the two judges hearing the case.
Justices Noorul Haq Qureshi and Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who were hearing the matter, were administered oath as additional judges for a year on November 21 last year.
Though their term ended on Tuesday, the government did not issue a notification to extend their tenure.
Officials said the bench stood dissolved and would be unable to hear the petition challenging the unprecedented three-year extension given to Gen. Kayani by the Pakistan People’s Party-led government in 2010.
The judges were to hear the petition on November 22.
Col (retired) Inamur Rahim, who has challenged the legality of the extension, has contended that Gen. Kayani cannot hold the post of army chief as he had reached the age of retirement (60 years) on April 20.
The Judicial Commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and a parliamentary panel that oversees judicial appointments had recommended that Justices Qureshi and Siddiqui be given a six-month extension. Despite this, no notification was issued by the government, officials said.
Observers have suggested that the government’s action was aimed at placating the army as Gen. Kayani has spoken out against moves to prosecute several retired generals for their role in financial scams and for meddling in politics.
Gen. Kayani recently issued a strongly worded statement that acknowledged past mistakes by members of the armed forces but said that no state institution should exceed its constitutional limits.