Islamabad: “Housing scam” NA employees Housing facing axe for ‘corruption’

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Islamabad: “Housing scam” NA employees Housing facing axe for ‘corruption’
Feb 3: A number of employees of National Assembly secretariat may face termination as the chairman of the NA standing committee on house and library will present before the house its report about a major corruption scandal on Friday (today).
The scam involved embezzlement of about Rs500 million and defrauding 3,000 members of a housing society of over 1,000 kanals of land in the suburbs of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
“It is a test case for the house,” said Sheikh Waqas Akram of the PML-Q, who headed a bipartisan special probe committee, comprising Noor Alam Khan of the PPP, Anjum Aqeel Khan of the PML-N and Shagufta Sadiq of the MQM.
Normally, reports of the standing committees presented before the house about their respective departments are meant for the government to take action. However, in this particular case, it is for the National Assembly secretariat to initiate action against its own staff members.
As per findings of the report, Shahid Gilani, a joint secretary, and Tariq Khakwani, a deputy secretary of the National Assembly, have turned out to be the major players in the scam and the committee has recommended a disciplinary action, which could lead to their re moval from service.A number of other staff members of the house are also said to be involved in the scam. A former deputy commissioner Assadullah Faiz, who is now serving as director at the ministry of environment, has also been found involved.
NA Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi, who is chairperson of the standing committee on house and library, will present the report before the house.
Talking to Dawn, both Mr Kundi and Mr Akram said they remained under constant pressure from various quarters to go soft on some of the accused. Mr Kundi said the probe committee had done a great job and now the ball was in the Speaker’s court.
When the committee formally handed over the report to Speaker Dr Fehmida on Feb 2, she had a meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani whose connection with Mr Khakwani is a known fact.
Similarly, Shahid Gilani, is the brother of a sitting Supreme Court judge, the fact according to some officials in the National Assembly, could come into play about the eventual handling of the report by the speaker.
The officials dealing with legislative affairs in the NA secretariat said the speaker could have taken action forthwith once she formally received the report from Mr Kundi. In the past, actions had been initiated on simple complaints of standing committees.
When contacted, National Assembly Secretary Karamat Hussain Niazi said once presented before the house, it was up to it whether to accept or reject it, or recommend certain amendments.
However, National Assembly’s rule of procedures number 237 (I) says: “After a report has been presented to the assembly, the chairman or any member of the committee or any other member may move that the report be taken into consideration whereupon the speaker may put the question to the house”.
The rule number 237 (2) says: “Before putting the question to the house, the speaker may permit a debate on the motion, not exceeding half an hour in duration, and such debate shall not refer to the details of the report further than is necessary to make out a case for the consideration of the report by the house.
And rule 237 (3) says: “After the motion made under sub-rule (1) is carried the speaker may allot one or more days for discussion on the report.” Therefore, it is up to Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza how she handles the report because the house is set to prorogue on Friday.

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