Friction between Punjab govt, NAB over Ahad Cheema’s arrest

Friction between the Punjab government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB), on Friday, was observed over the arrest of Lahore Development Authority (LDA)’s former director general Ahad Cheema.
It said that Cheema, by misuse of authority and with criminal intent, awarded a contract of the Ashiana-e-Iqbal project of approximately Rs14 billion to Lahore Casa Developers — a joint-venture which was ineligible for the contract. He is also accused of receiving illegal gratification in the form of a 32-Kanal land valuing Rs30.09 million approximately from the owners of Paragon City (Pvt) Ltd.
An emergency meeting of the Punjab Cabinet, to be held later today, was summoned following Cheema’s arrest.
The opposition members in the Punjab Assembly registered their protest over Cheema’s promotion from Grade 19 to Grade 20 and walked out of the assembly after they were not allowed to speak about the matter.
Civil officers adopt resolution against Cheema’s arrest
During an emergency meeting of the civil services officers at the Government Officers’ Residences (GOR) in Lahore, a resolution against Cheema’s arrest by the NAB was adopted.
Over 200 civil services officers, in attendance, have demanded a suo motu notice of Cheema’s arrest on February 21.
‘Won’t support Cheema if there is evidence against him’
Speaking to the media in Lahore, the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the provincial government has never supported any corrupt officer.
“We have always taken action against corrupt officers, and if any solid evidence is brought forth against Ahad Cheema we shall not support him,” Sanaullah told the media.
The spokesperson of the Punjab government Malik Ahmed Khan stated that no reason was given for Cheema’s arrest, adding that the former DG LDA would have appeared before NAB if the latter had sent a request to the chief secretary.
‘Shameful protest from bureaucracy belonging to PAS’
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan took to social media to denounce the protest from members of the Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS) over Cheema’s arrest.
“This union of the corrupt under leadership of Godfather SS [Shehbaz Sharif] believes they are above the law. If they are innocent why should they fear accountability?,” tweeted Imran.
The PTI chief, lashing out at the PAS bureaucrats, questioned their motives, stating that their fear of accountability was inexplicable if they had not indulged in or abetted any corruption.
Cheema remanded in NAB custody
An accountability court on Thursday granted physical remand of Cheema to NAB in the Ashiana housing scheme inquiry.
Cheema was presented before accountability judge Muhammad Azam, where the NAB prosecutor had told the court that the accused distributed the contract of Ashiana housing scheme on the basis of nepotism.
The court agreed to a physical remand of 11 days in response to NAB’s request to grant a 14-day remand of the accused.