PM asks FIA to probe road projects of past regimes
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to hold investigations into alleged corruption in road infrastructure projects of the past regimes.
Performing the groundbreaking of Jhal Jaho Bela Road at Islamabad here on Wednesday, the PM said FIA has been authorised to expose the handful of elements that “minted money” through road projects in the past regimes.
According to sources, the investigations into mega construction projects, particularly in Punjab, has been one of top priorities of the premier since assuming charge and these investigations would directly focus on PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and his family.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the road projects, being executed by the present government, were inexpensive when compared with the projects completed in the previous regimes.
“We are spending two hundred million rupees less on a four-lane road than the ones executed back in 2013.” The premier said this demonstrated how much tax payers’ money was plundered in the past. He assured to make the findings of the investigation public.
It may be relevant to mention here that in his first-ever meeting with Bashir Ahmed Memon, the then head of FIA, Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked him to launch a thorough investigation into the mass transit projects undertaken by former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz and his son Hamza Shahbaz as the premier had suspected massive corruption in those schemes. But, because of the reluctance of former DG FIA over jurisdiction issues, the plan couldn’t be materialized then.
At that time, according to sources, PM Khan was also holding the charge of the Interior Ministry, under which the FIA functions. During the meeting, the focus of the premier remained primarily on Shahbaz Sharif and his son Hamza.
The premier had made it clear that he wanted thorough probes conducted into certain construction contracts worth billions of rupees awarded by Shahbaz Sharif-led Punjab government during his 10-year tenure.
The mega-contracts the PM wanted to be investigated at the earliest include the Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi metro bus services and the Orange Line metro train in Lahore.
According to sources, the PM had handed the then FIA DG a list of six construction companies including Habib Construction, ZKB, Sarwar and Co, Alam and Sons, MAAK Sons and Maqbool Sons. All of these companies were awarded lucrative construction contracts in Punjab during Shehbaz Sharif’s tenure as CM Punjab.
However, Bashir Memon had informed the PM that FIA had no jurisdiction in the affairs because they fall in the domain of the provincial government and could only be probed by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab, and any attempt by the FIA to pursue the case would have legal ramifications.
Nonetheless, the prime minister instructed the FIA chief to collect all data pertaining to the six companies and their owners, and to identify any relations they have with the Sharifs and any front-men involved in the award of the contracts.
He was asked FIA to pinpoint any undue favours given to these companies as well as any corruption or kickbacks offered to or received by the involved parties, the sources said.
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