Govt rejects Ministers’ political involvement in RRR scam


-Info Minister says no evidence of Ministers’ or PM’s aide involvement in RRR scam

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday no evidence of the involvement of any minister or prime minister’s aide in the Rawalpindi Ring Road project scam had been found yet.
His statement comes a day after Special Assistant to Prime Minister Zulfi Bukhari stepped down from his office until the inquiry into the scam is completed. A friend of the prime minister, Bukhari was away from media for some days after rumours of his purported role in the scam emerged.
In a series of tweets, Chaudhry said an initial investigation by the Rawalpindi Commissioner Gulzar Hussain Shah revealed the involvement of a former city commissioner and other officers in the scam.
A day earlier, Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan also rejected having any role in the project and vowed to quit politics if any corruption could be proved against him.
In May, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered an inquiry into the project and the case was referred by the Punjab government to the Anti-Corruption Department and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for a probe.
The inquiry revolves around alterations to the original route of the road, purportedly to benefit some members of the cabinet or their relatives. Originally designed from Rewat to Turnol through Murat on Grand Trunk Road, the route was later changed to conclude on the Islamabad-Lahore (M-2) Motorway.
The route was conceived during the government of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in 2016 but changed in 2018 and was re-endorsed this year. Today, Chaudhry maintained across the board accountability was the hallmark of Prime Minister Imran Khan, under which every individual facing claims of wrongdoings stood answerable in line with the law.
“All citizens are equal in the eyes of law. Now there will be investigations into all allegations whether these are against opposition leaders, cabinet members, bureaucracy or any institution,” he said. He said the principle of “answerability” would be implemented on everyone facing any accusations, adding it was the change in the system that had been promised. The minister said it was only possible in Imran’s government that the allegations were probed when leveled against whosoever. While contrary to it, during the tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), media had been highlighting wrongdoings loud and clear, but all went unheard.
Now, he said, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had changed the system as it strongly believed that government officials should have fear of accountability, besides influential personalities, were also not above the law. Chaudhry said the prime minister was apprised about the matter of project that 23-kilometer stretch was added in the original alignment to benefit housing societies that led to an additional payment of Rs20 billion on account of land procurement.