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ACE arrests officials in Rawalpindi Ring Road project

15 جولائ 2021
Former Rawalpindi commissioner Captian (retd) Muhammad Mahmood and land requisition officer Wasim Tabish arrested for suspected involvement in the Ring Road scam.
Former Rawalpindi commissioner Captian (retd) Muhammad Mahmood and land requisition officer Wasim Tabish arrested for suspected involvement in the Ring Road scam.

Punjab’s Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on Wednesday arrested former Rawalpindi commissioner Captian (retd) Muhammad Mahmood and land requisition officer Wasim Tabish for their suspected involvement in the Ring Road scam.

The organization's Director General Gohar Nafees, outlined the details of the arrest during a press conference, saying that Tabish had purchased properties after the scam. There is also an ongoing investigation on the audit of Mahmood’s assets.

According to the DG, the committee had examined 21,000 documents and concluded that the total cost of the project was raised to Rs60 billion after a change in the alignment of the Ring Road project. The previous approval was given by the government in 2018, since then changes had been made by the former commissioner Mahmood.

Dawn reported that the former commissioner had made illegal changes in the original plan of the Ring Road for beneficiaries including more than 50 influential people, real estate dealers and people connected with the project who had purchased 64,000 kanal land. DG Nafees also mentioned that these changes, such as additions of interchanges and routes would benefit developers of private housing societies as they could establish these societies anywhere and then "charge residents at their will."

The DG reported that changes were made in the construction project such as changes in alignment of the ring road without approval from the Punjab chief minister. Moreover, no objection certificates were not taken from the Capital Development Authority and the National Highway Authority.

The report also stated that those involved in the scam had misguided the prime minister about the alignment of the project by telling him that only service roads were established around the Ring Road to benefit housing societies. Nafees added that the cases against the housing societies had been forwarded to the National Accountability Bureau for further investigation.

Allegations had been made against Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari for being involved in the Ring Road scandal by a major opposition party who said he was one of the beneficiaries of the road’s realignment. Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar were also involved, said opposition parties.

Bukhari resigned from his post on 17th May 2021. In a series of tweets he claimed that he had resigned to set an example as the Prime Minister "has always said that if a person has been named rightly or wrongly in any inquiry he should cease to hold any public office till his name has been cleared of charges."

On Wednesday, Buzdar, Bukhari and Sarwar were given clean chit according to the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment. On Thursday, July 15 #CongratsZulfiqarBukhari began trending on Twitter as his loyal supporters congratulated him.

Some mentioned the unfairness of the case which should have been "open and shut" but was instead carried on due to propaganda of the media against Bukhari.

Others mentioned that Bukhari had carried on the vision of the Prime Minister, been a true soldier and had set "high standards" by resigning on moral grounds.

Several also mentioned that Bukhari has worked diligently for overseas Pakistanis.

User Poor_kisan0 noted that the change has just begun and so the support for the prime minister should continue.

Ali Haider took to quoting Bukhari's tweets from May when he had resigned, asking him to "rejoin as soon as possible."