Four months on: NAB fails to file any reference against Ahad Cheema


–Investigation officer probing Cheema’s case resigns amid pressure


LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has not yet been able to file a reference against former Lahore Development Authority (LDA) director general Ahad Cheema in the Ashiana Housing Scheme scam while the investigation officer (IO) of the case has resigned amid pressure from some quarters, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, NAB, rather than filing the reference is changing the allegations as it has reportedly found no concrete evidence against Cheema – a BS-19 officer of PAS – in any case of embezzlement. “The validity of NAB’s claims about Ahad Cheema can be gauged from the fact that it has not yet prepared a reference [charge sheet] despite the passage of four months and says something once and a completely different thing another time,” sources said.

It has also been learnt that the IO of the case has withdrawn himself from the probe after failing to handle pressure. According to sources, he resigned on the 87th day of Cheema’s remand. However, NAB Spokesman Muhammad Zeeshan has rejected the impression that the IO resigned due to pressure.

“On the 87th day, NAB itself relieved the former IO as he had to prepare the reference against Cheema in the Ashiana Housing Scheme. The second IO will probe another case against the civil servant pertaining to assets beyond his income,” he said.

“The two references are currently being prepared against Cheema and NAB has widened the investigation as startling revelations have surfaced,” added the spokesman and clarified that NAB had demanded a further remand from the accountability court on the completion of 90 days as the bureau was preparing a second charge sheet.

“As per the law, NAB can demand the physical remand of an accused for a second reference,” he said.

It may be noted that NAB arrested Cheema on February 21 for alleged corruption in the Ashiana Housing Scheme. He allegedly misused his authority and awarded a Rs14 billion contract to a development firm for a low-cost housing scheme and was accused of receiving 32 kanals of land in return.

Following the revelations made by Cheema, NAB authorities arrested more people including Bismillah Engineering Company owner Shahid Shafiq, Israr Saeed, Arif Majeed, former PLDC CEO Imtiaz Haider and another PLDC official, Bilal Qudwai, for their alleged involvement in the housing scam.