Additional Rangers force deployed at NAB Lahore office after Ahad Cheema’s arrest

LAHORE:Additional Rangers personnel were deployed at the National Accountability Bureau’s Lahore on Saturday following a friction between the Punjab bureaucracy and the apex anti-corruption organisation over the arrest of former DG LDA Ahad Cheema.

It said that Cheema, by misuse of authority and with criminal intent, awarded a contract of the Ashiana-e-Iqbal project of approximately Rs14 billion to Lahore Casa Developers — a joint-venture which was ineligible for the contract. He is also accused of receiving illegal gratification in the form of a 32-Kanal land valuing Rs30.09 million approximately from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.

The additional security force was deployed on the request of the Chairman NAB Justice (Retd) Javed Iqbal.

Bureaucracy presents charter of demands to Punjab Govt

During an emergency meeting of the civil services officers at the Government Officers’ Residences (GOR) in Lahore, a resolution against Cheema’s arrest by the NAB was adopted.

Over 200 civil services officers, in attendance, had demanded a suo motu notice of Cheema’s arrest on February 21.

The Punjab bureaucracy submitting a charter of demands to the Punjab government on Friday demanded the formation of a judicial-like tribunal for their constitutional protection.

The National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) action against former Lahore Development Authority director general Ahad Cheema caused unrest among the bureaucrats, which pushed them to gather around a table to draft a charter of demands and send it to the Punjab cabinet.

In their charter, they demanded that probe against any civil servants should be conducted through a special tribunal comprising senior bureaucrats on the orders of the chief secretary and after the special tribunal completes its investigation, the case of the civil servants should be sent to the NAB or other trial institutions.

They also demanded that the government should provide a legal team and assistance in a case against any civil servant and should take immediate action in case of any maltreatment of a civil servant.

“An apology should be offered over the misconduct with Maqbool Ahmed Dhawla, Aftab Cheema, Muhammad Ali, Waseem Ajmal, Amir Aqiq Khan, and Safdar Virik, and the government should add an executive allowance to their salaries,” the document further read.

They also refused to accept any orders issued from the chief minister house and other political parties and said the orders should be sent through the chief secretary or the Punjab IG.

CM Shehbaz presides Punjab Cabiner Meeting, discusses Ahad’s arrest:

Opposing stances of the Punjab government and NAB were made public on Friday. An emergency meeting of the Punjab Cabinet was summoned following Cheema’s arrest.

The opposition members in the Punjab Assembly registered their protest over the former DG LDA’s promotion from Grade 19 to Grade 20 and walked out of the assembly after they were not allowed to speak about the matter.

A Punjab cabinet meeting on Friday expressed deep concern over the arrest of Ahad Cheema, former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general (DG) and Quaid-e-Azam Thermal Power Limited chief executive officer. The participants of the meeting agreed that the arrest was “unwarranted and illegal” and the National Accountancy Bureau (NAB) had illegally used its powers in this regard.

During the meeting that was held with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in chair, the cabinet members expressed their views that Ahad Khan Cheema was a dutiful, hardworking and honest officer of the Punjab government and was admired by many due to the speedy and transparent completion of development projects in the province.

They also said that Cheema played a vital role in the historic achievements gained by the government including that of ridding the people of the menace of load-shedding. The cabinet expressed its concern that by creating an environment of fear among the bureaucracy, “an effort was being made to create hurdles in the completion of public welfare projects” that were the hallmark of the Punjab government.

The cabinet members said that they strongly condemned such steps that they were standing with the officers who were being targeted. The cabinet said that first an enquiry is held in such cases and the process of investigation and reference is filed upon its findings later on. Afterwards, charges are framed by the accountability court. They said it was regrettable that Cheema was arrested during the first phase of the case.

The cabinet was of the view that the process of Cheema’s arrest was reflective of “discriminatory and partial treatment”.

The cabinet meeting decided that the Punjab government should immediately approach the federal government on the issue of such an “illegal arrest” and the federal government should play its role to ensure the supremacy of constitution and the rule of law.

It was also decided in the meeting that Cheema and his family would be provided with every possible moral and legal assistance. The cabinet also decided to constitute a cabinet committee in this regard.

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