Saturday, September 4, 2010

An Act of Barbarity: Kidnapping & Torture of Mr. Umar Cheema.

This act of madness committed against Mr Umar Cheema [Senior Correspondent of The News International/Jang Group] should be condemned in the strongest possible words. Difference of Opinion doesn't give permission to commit such acts of barbarity. In my humble opinion Mr. Umar Cheema is an excellent and no non-sense reporter and this is evident from some his stories [links are dead because The News has changed the format therefore tolerate the text with dates of the Excellent Stories filed by Mr Cheema in The News International and Jang as well].

ISLAMABAD: Umer Cheema, reporter of The News Investigation Cell was tortured and humiliated during 6-hour captivity after abduction by unidentified men from Islamabad on Saturday. Giving account of the events of abduction and torture following his release, Umer Cheema said he was picked up by some unknown men in police uniforms from Islamabad Sector I-8 when he was returning home early in the morning at Sehri time and taken to an unknown place at 45 to 50 minutes drive. He said he was heading home in his car after meeting with friends. When he reached Sector I-8, a Land Cruiser blocked his way and pulled over in front of his car while a white Toyota came and parked right behind. “A few unknown men wearing uniforms of Elite Force came up to me, saying I crushed a man at Zero Point and drove off and then these men forcibly took me along with them,” Umer Cheema said. He said the men covered his face and took him to a building at 45 to 50 minutes drive. “I was held in illegal captivity for 6 hours during which I was continuously tortured and humiliated in nude. They stripped me out of my clothes, hanged me upside down and shaved off my head and moustaches,” the senior reporter of the country’s leading English daily recounted. Umer Cheema quoted the captors as saying: “Do you intend to have Martial Law imposed in the country by publishing anti-government reports?” He said the captors warned: “Stop writing against the government, if you cannot bear this torture and that Ansar Abbasi will be next target if I failed to stop.” They were also aware of my arriving in Gujranwala, Umer Cheema added. REFERENCE: The News reporter tortured, humiliated after abduction 'The News' reporter tortured, humiliated after abduction Updated at:1756 PST, Saturday, September 04, 2010 Saturday, September 04, 2010, Ramzan 24, 1431 A.H


ISLAMABAD: The main wheeler and dealer of the ISI during the 2002 elections, the then Maj-Gen Ehtesham Zamir, now retired, has come out of the closet and admitted his guilt of manipulating the 2002 elections, and has directly blamed Gen Musharraf for ordering so. Talking to The News, the head of the ISI’s political cell in 2002, admitted manipulating the last elections at the behest of President Musharraf and termed the defeat of the King’s party, the PML-Q, this time “a reaction of the unnatural dispensation (installed in 2002).” Zamir said the ISI together with the NAB was instrumental in pressing the lawmakers to join the pro-Musharraf camp to form the government to support his stay in power. Looking down back into the memory lane and recalling his blunders which, he admitted, had pushed the country back instead of taking it forward, Zamir feels ashamed of his role and conduct. Massively embarrassed because he was the one who negotiated, coerced and did all the dirty work, the retired Maj-Gen said he was not in a position to become a preacher now when his own past was tainted. He said the country would not have faced such regression had the political management was not carried out by the ISI in 2002. But he also put some responsibility of the political disaster on the PML-Q as well. The former No: 2 of the ISI called for the closure of political cell in the agency, confessing that it was part of the problem due to its involvement in forging unnatural alliances, contrary to public wishes. Zamir’s blaming Musharraf for creating this unnatural alliance rings true as another former top associate of Musharraf, Lt-Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani has already disclosed that majority of the corps commanders, in several meetings, had opposed Musharraf’s decision of patronising the leadership of the King’s party. “We had urged Musharraf many times during the corps commanders meeting that the PML-Q leadership was the most condemned and castigated personalities. They are the worst politicians who remained involved in co-operative scandals and writing off loans. But Musharraf never heard our advice,” Kiyani said while recalling discussions in their high profile meetings.

He said one of their colleagues, who was an accountability chief at that time, had sought permission many times for proceeding against the King’s party top leaders but was always denied. Kiyani asked Musharraf to quit, the sooner the better, as otherwise the country would be in a serious trouble. Ma-Gen (retd) EhteshamZamir termed the 2008 elections ‘fairer than 2002’. He said the reason behind their fairness is that there was relatively less interference of intelligence agencies this time as compared to the last time. But he stopped short of saying that there was zero interference in the 2008 polls. “You are quite right,” he said when asked to confirm about heavy penetration of ISI into political affairs during the 2002 elections. But he said he did not do it on his own but on the directives issued by the government. Asked who directed him from the government side and if there was somebody else, not President Musharraf, he said: “Obviously on the directives of President Musharraf.” Asked if he then never felt that he was committing a crime by manipulating political business at the cost of public wishes, he said: “Who should I have told except myself. Could I have asked Musharraf about this? I was a serving officer and I did what I was told to do. I never felt this need during the service to question anyone senior to me,” he said and added that he could not defend his acts now.

“It was for this reason that I have never tried to preach others what I did not practice. But I am of the view that the ISI’s political cell should be closed for good by revoking executive orders issued in 1975,” he said. Responding to a question regarding corruption cases that were used as pressure tactics on lawmakers, he said: “Yes! This tool was used, not only by the ISI. The NAB was also involved in this exercise.” Former corps commander of Rawalpindi, Lt-Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani said majority of corps commanders had continued opposing Musharraf’s alliance with top leadership of the PML-Q. “Not just in one meeting, we opposed his alignment with these corrupt politicians in many meetings but who cared. Now Musharraf has been disgraced everywhere, thanks to his political cronies.” REFERENCE: The man, who rigged 2002 polls, spills the beans By Umar Cheema Sunday, February 24, 2008

ISLAMABAD: There is a general misconception that the Lal Masjid clerics who are making the headlines nowadays owe their ‘glory’ to the blessings of intelligence agencies. The facts tell a different story. It would be interesting to know how Maulana Abdullah, the late father of the Ghazi Brothers ‘maneuvered’ to get the Khitabat of Lal Masjid and Jamia Faridia. Equally interesting would be to know why masjid and madrasah were respectively named as Lal Masjid and Jamia Faridia. It was the late Field Marshal Ayub Khan, the country’s first military ruler, who got appointed late Maulana Abdullah as the prayer leader of Lal Masjid, on the advice of his spiritual guide, Pir Sahib of Deval Sharif. Jaafar Brothers, one of the leading industrialist groups of the country who had constructed Jamia Faridia, in order to show reverence to the great Sufi Saint Khawaja Ghulam Farid named the seminary after him. It was handed over to the Maulanas by the then secretary CBR, Syed Hassan Akhtar. The land for Jamia Faridia was allotted during the late Gen Zia’s regime. This was due to the blessing of Pirs that Lal Masjid Maulanas could manage to take over these religious seats. A graduate of Jamia Binnoria, Karachi, late Maulana Abdullah landed in Rawalpindi soon after President Ayub Khan took the decision to shift the capital to Islamabad. He took oath of allegiance to the then Pir of Deval Sharif, Muhammad Abdul Majid. This was a significant move on part of a Deobandi Maulana.

The information has been verified by the son of Pir Deval Sharif, Rooh-ul-Husnain Moeen and coordinator of Auqaf Department, Syed Muhammad Ali Wasti who says that many people told his father about the religious school of thought of late Maulana Abdullah, but Pir Sahib gave no importance to the point and considered and treated him like a changed man. Maulana Abdullah served as the prayer leader in the mosque of Pir Sahib and later requested him to exercise his spiritual influence over his disciple, Gen Ayub. Pir Sahib Deval Sharif helped Maulana Abdullah in his appointment as Khateeb of Lal Masjid. The Auqaf Department later took over Lal Masjid, but Maulana’s religious dynasty kept on flourishing unhindered. It was during Zia regime that Jamia Faridia was established. As the story goes, a partner of ‘Jaafar Brothers’ dreamed that he was at the tomb of Khawaja Ghulam Farid and that a river full of water was flowing around. He shared the dream with Syed Akhtar Hassan, the-then secretary CBR, and sought his interpretation of the dream.

Akhtar termed the dream as a good omen and advised him to build a seminary and name it after Khawaja Ghulam Farid. Jaafar did accordingly. Akhtar helped him acquire the land from the government of late Gen Zia. Admiral (retd) Muhammad Sharif, whose son-in-law (Sha’aban Shoukat) these days is running a massage center (spa) in Super Market, had then allotted this land. Interestingly, Lal Masjid brigade had raided an alleged prostitution den and then a massage center. However, the massage centre of Sha’aban Shoukat was not touched. Sha’aban was a CBR officer and left the CBR job to start this apparently lucrative business. The CBR secretary handed over the management of the Jamia to Maulana Abdullah and since-then the seminary has been under the command of the family. Why Lal Masjid was so called? Some say that it was named after Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a highly revered saint of Sindh buried in Sehwan Sharif. This may well have been a ploy of the military government of Ayub Khan to please the people of Sindh who were not at all happy with the shifting of the capital from Karachi to Islamabad. It was most probably due to this reason that its walls were painted with red colour. REFERENCE: How Ghazi brothers got hold of seminaries By Umar Cheema Sunday, July 08, 2007, Jamadi-us-sani 22, 1428 A.H

ISLAMABAD: One of the top security agencies on Wednesday picked up Raja Ehsan Aziz, a member of Tehrik-e-Islami (TI), for his alleged connections with terrorists who had attacked the Parade Lane Mosque in Rawalpindi and Moon Market in Lahore. Tehrik-e-Islami is a splinter group of the JI. Two female members of the Tehrik have already been taken into custody. Sarwat Wahid, another female member whose son’s car was used in the Parade Lane Mosque attack, is missing. Also her son, Jawad, who was studying in Faisalabad after doing A Level from Beacon House School System, is missing. Aziz, a graduate of Columbia University who also served on senior positions at the Foreign Office, is a retired professor of International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University. His elder son is an Army doctor. Aziz was taken away from his house in G/10-3 on Wednesday evening by sleuths of the Counter-Terrorism Cell, his wife Amira Aziz told The News. Amira, an ex-MNA of Jamaat-e-Islami and now a Shura member of the Tehrik, is a religious scholar and writes columns in an Urdu daily. Aziz’s driver, Phool Zeb from Nowshera, has already been arrested as investigators found a mobile SIM allegedly used for conversation during the attacks on the Parade Lane Mosque and Moon Market, was issued in his name. Likewise, the car used in the mosque attack belonged to Jawad, the son of a Tehrik-e-Islami woman, Sarwat Wahid, a resident of I-8 Sector, Islamabad. Both of them are missing since then. Likewise, Aziz’ son, Omer, a student of Islamic International University, has not returned home for the last five days.

Aziz has been picked up for the second time, his wife said, denying any links of the family with terrorism incidents. “I’m a sworn enemy of America and can pay any price for it but I strongly oppose terrorism within Pakistan,” Amira Aziz told The News. She said the intelligence operatives had been following the women activists of Tehrik-e-Islami for the last six months and harassed them. She alleged that her husband was beaten black and blue when picked up last time and kept in illegal custody for a night. Amira said her son, Omer, a heart patient, was very upset when intelligence guys kept his father in their custody for a night. A female member of Tehrik, Najma Sana, who lives in G-9/1, is already in the agency’s custody for the last 10 days. Sarwat Wahid, after being chased by the intelligence agency, left Islamabad for Karachi where she was again pursued by the police. Her sister and children in Karachi have been arrested to press for recovery of Sarwat who has gone underground there. Sarwat’s son, Jawad, is also missing. Tahira Mumtaz, another female member of the Tehrik, was twice called for investigation over her alleged assistance to Sarwat to flee the capital. Altaf Aziz Khattack, SHO, said he was not aware of any such incident. He asked this correspondent to take up the matter with the R A Bazaar police in whose jurisdiction the mosque was attacked. When contacted, officials of the concerned police station said that they had not arrested Ehsan Aziz, adding the Army was investigating the attack and the matter may be taken up with them. The DG ISPR could not be contacted. REFERENCE: JI splinter group leader, females held for links to suicide attackers Friday, December 18, 2009 By Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: The Chief Secretary of Sindh had strongly opposed the strategy of the provincial government for May 12 while the Prime Minister’s advice to the provincial government for a judicial inquiry into the killings has been turned down, authoritative sources said on Friday. It was also revealed that the MQM had wanted to join the Islamabad rally but was stopped by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat. Observers believe that these three important developments concerning the May 12 killings in Karachi may have a serious impact not only at the provincial level but also at the national. Sources said the Chief Secretary of Sindh, Shakeel Durrani, had strongly opposed the ‘counter productive’ strategy of the provincial government designed for May 12, the day the Chief Justice of Pakistan had gone to Karachi for addressing lawyers there. He had written in advance to his seniors, proposing that hurdles should not be created and that the CJ be given a smooth passage. His recommendations were in clear contradiction to the Sindh Home Department, headed by former sector commander of Military Intelligence, Brig (retd) Ghulam Muhtaram. While the home department, fearing a serious law and order situation, insisted the CJ should not take the flight to Karachi, the chief secretary opposed the plan that was aimed to flop the CJ’s show, warning it would deteriorate the situation.

Shakeel Durrani had not only verbally opposed the blockade of roads but had also opposed in writing to such a plan that was prone to violence and mass-scale killings. He had instead recommended that no hurdle should be created and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should be allowed to go by the route he wanted to use for reaching the high court bar. His recommendations, however, got a deaf ear from those who matter in decision-making in Sindh. Durrani is believed to have also held responsible his provincial government for Karachi mayhem, The News has learnt on good authority. While Durrani did not comment on the report when contacted by The News, another officer close to him confirmed it but refused to provide the details.

Meanwhile, the Sindh government has refused to order a judicial inquiry into the killings. The News has learnt on good authority that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz wanted to order a judicial inquiry into the incident. He went to Karachi on Wednesday with this plan but faced opposition from his ruling allies in Sindh.

According to the sources, the PM had gone to Karachi with a plan to announce ordering judicial inquiry in a press conference after holding meetings there. Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao and Secretary Interior Kamal Shah had also accompanied him during this visit late Wednesday. Sources privy to the development say the PM’s plan could not materialize following stiff opposition from his allies in Sindh who said that such an order would open up a new Pandora’s Box. The PM who had ordered judicial inquiry into the mysterious murder of Supreme Court’s additional registrar Hamad Raza, failed to do it in a case where more than 40 people had been killed in just one day, ie May 12.

Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao, when contacted to confirm about the PM plan, refused to comment. “I neither deny nor confirm this report,” he said.

Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, however, termed the ordering of judicial inquiry as a legal issue. He also did not deny that the PM was planning to order a judicial inquiry but said: “I am not in knowledge of the plan”. Also, some MQM lawmakers have been heard blaming the Chaudhrys of the Gujrat for ‘pushing’ them to hold a separate rally in Karachi instead of joining the PML-Q rally in Islamabad held the same day. They feel the May 12 incidents have left an adverse impact on their strategy to expand to other provinces so as to become a mainstream political party. The Karachi tragedy has put the MQM in dock as its offices in the Punjab and rural Sindh have faced a virtual closure following protests by the public of respective areas who blamed them for this bloodbath in Karachi.

In their background interviews, the MQM lawmakers are blaming Chaudhrys of Gujrat for putting them to ‘abuse’. They say they were not for holding a rally in Karachi. According to them, they had expressed the desire to join the PML-Q rally held in Islamabad the same day but were denied. MQM parliamentary leader Dr Farooq Sattar, in his on-the-record discussion, has neither denied nor confirmed the claim of his party colleagues. But he said their plan to hold rally in Karachi was made after detailed deliberation. REFERENCE: Who is to blame for Karachi mayhem? Umar Cheema Saturday, May 19, 2007

ISLAMABAD: A summary has been moved to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz seeking his approval for the purchase of bulleproof Mercedes cars for the chief of Air staff and the chief of the Naval staff, The News has learnt on authority. The Defence Ministry has moved this summary after the relevant departments forwarded the requests in line with their measures to beef up security of the said services chiefs. According to sources, the security of Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Ahmad and CNS Admiral Afzal Tahir has already been doubled. Spokespersons for the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Navy neither deny nor confirm the report. “I have no comment to offer,” Air Commodore Sarfraz Ahmad, told this correspondent when contacted for the PAF version. Capt Siddique, Pakistan Navy’s spokesman said he was not in the knowledge. Javed Akhtar, the PM’s press secretary said, “I am not authorised to chase the summaries.” Akhtar further explained the PM Secretariat has no spokesman and added that only the PM himself can respond to such queries. Both services chiefs have no bullet proof cars at the moment that necessitated the request for the purchase of these cars.

Top Army officials, like the COAS, the VCOAS, the DG ISI, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the corps commanders have bulletproof cars. Around two-dozen bulletproof cars, Mercedes Benz and BMW, were purchased to protect the top Army leadership in the wake of an assassination attempt on Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) Lt-Gen Ahsan Salim Hayat, who was then Corps Commander Karachi. According to sources, the summary seeking PM’s approval for the purchase of bulletproof cars for the ACM and CNS, has been with the PM Secretariat for a couple of weeks. Defence Minister Rao Sikandar authorised the submission of the summary to the PM. And the scretary defence acted accordingly, sources said. Presently, the air chief has a Mercedes car at his disposal but it is not bullet proof. The CNS has a Lexus for official use. The government has imported more than 40 bulletproof cars — 10 last year. The procurement of jammers-fitted Toyota land cruisers is apart from the purchase of the said cars made in one financial year. REFERENCE: Air chief, CNS ask for bulletproof cars Monday, March 12, 2007 Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: The mystery of the abduction in tribal areas of two pro-Taliban ISI veterans has virtually been solved as the wife of a kidnapped officer says the Punjabi Taliban were responsible and they invited them to the tribal areas. One of the kidnapped ISI veterans, Khalid Khawaja, has previously acted as a conduit for Baitullah Mehsud for an intelligence agency. He once handed to late Baitullah a list of the Punjabi Taliban in the tribal belt who were disliked by the intelligence sleuths. Khawaja, in a recently televised video sent by the captors, said he went to the tribal belt on the advice of former DG ISI, Lt Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, a serving ISI Col Sajjad, and former Army chief Aslam Beg. Col (retd) Imam in the same video said he undertook the tribal area visit on the advice of Gen (retd) Beg. Retired PAF Squadron Leader Khalid Khawaja and Col (retd) Sultan Amir alias Col Imam were kidnapped along with a British documentary-maker of Pakistani origin, Asad Qureshi, in the tribal area where they went to film the ‘atrocities’ being committed on the Taliban of the Fata region.

According to an early press release issued by Khawaja’s family, they went there on the “precise invitation of the High Command of Tehrik-e-Taliban of North and South Waziristan as their respected guests for the purpose of making a documentary highlighting the present situation of the area and its impact on the indigenous population.” However, details gathered in background conversations present a totally different picture. As far their visit to the area is concerned, it was not being done at the invitation of leadership of Taliban militants in Waziristan as was initially told to the media by the family of Khalid Khawaja. It was the second visit to the area within a month by Khawaja and Col (retd) Imam. They first went to the area in the beginning of March and left Islamabad for a second trip on March 26.

Before they departed for the second time, their guide in the first visit declined to join them, stating security concerns. As Khawaja was in contact with another Taliban militant, Usman Punjabi, they decided to leave after receiving clearance from him who also sent a guide to ensure their safe travel. They were later found missing. The man who called the family of Khalid Khawaja to convey the demands of the captors introduced himself as ‘Usman Punjabi, confirmed Khawaja’s wife and son who have realised that the callers represent a bunch of criminals. They understand the group is dominated by Punjabi Taliban, raising questions about their motives. Khawaja once handed a list of Punjabi Taliban to late Baitulah Mehsud on behalf of an intelligence agency, conveying the latter’s desire they be reined in as they were creating trouble time and again. Right from attacks on former President Pervez Musharraf to the GHQ and at other places, the Punjabi Taliban have been found involved.

Khawaja’s family did not deny he acted as a conduit. Elaborating, his son said his father’s efforts were intended to bring peace and he played a crucial role in holding Jirgas with Baitullah-led militants in the past. Col (retd) Imam was closer to Afghan Taliban apparently working on behalf of the Pakistani establishment. His son is a serving major in the Army. Khawaja remained more active on the domestic front. He had once claimed that he hosted Osama bin Laden in pre-9/11 days when bin Laden used to visit his Islamabad residence. Khawaja also remained at center-stage during Lal Masjid crisis, siding with the clerics. Though he spearheaded the movement of missing persons in the beginning, his alleged dual role came under suspicion by the families. REFERENCE: Missing ex-ISI officers in Fata Thursday, April 22, 2010 By Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: A high profile missing person’s case has taken a dramatic turn as the police are examining a sitting corps commander and two recently retired ISI officials whereas a former DG ISI, now a corps commander, is likely to be examined following a guarded disclosure by former attorney general Malik Qayyum. Lt. Gen. Shafqaatullah, Corps Commander Multan, and two retired ISI officials, Brig. Mansoor Saeed and Col. Jehangir Akhtar, have submitted their statements to the Supreme Court through the police as they were allegedly in knowledge of where Masood Janjua had been kept. Masood Janjua was picked up along with a friend in July 2005 in Rawalpindi and has been missing since then. Amina, his wife, has waged a movement for the last five years, demanding the release of her husband and others. There are more than 3,500 persons reportedly missing of which 250 cases have been taken up by the Supreme Court. The police have told the Supreme Court they need to further probe these officials as their statements do not answer all the questions required for a thorough probe, a fact confirmed by Kamran Aadil, Superintendent Police, who is in-charge of the investigation.

Kamran Aadil told The News the police would send more questions to the concerned officials through the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Branch of the Pakistan Army. He appreciated the role of JAG Branch, which is fully cooperating with them. When asked about the statements he had obtained, Kamran said they had been submitted to the court and he would not comment about them. Another corps commander who previously headed the ISI is expected to be next to be examined as he is said to have told Malik Qayyum, the then attorney general, that Masood Janjua had been killed. His examination is required to determine how he knew and who killed Masood Janjua. Lt. Gen. Shafqaat and two ISI officials are being examined on the request of Amina Masood after she told the court that she had approached these officers and they had dropped hints about the whereabouts of her husband. Shafqaat was military secretary to the then President Pervez Musharraf. He is said to have informed Amina that they had learned through their informers that her husband was seen somewhere in Waziristan and was alive. But he had declined to share his source.

Now as the police have obtained Shafqaat’s statement, he backtracked from what he reportedly told Amina. His statement on a plain paper submitted to the court with his signature on it has been seen by The News. It said that his efforts to locate Janjua, “initiated on the president’s directions, failed to trace the man.” Masood’s father, a retired colonel of SSG, was senior to Musharraf and had asked him for help. Since Amina Janjua had also contacted him, Shafqaat wrote in his statement: “I politely informed her that all requested details have already been communicated to her father-in-law and that I had nothing else to add.” Amina, talking to The News, contested the contents of Shafqaat’s statement, insisting that he had then said “their informers had seen him (Masood Janjua) alive somewhere in Waziristan.” She also demanded the corps commander be summoned before the court for cross-examination.

Col. Jahangir of ISI had frequently met Amina, visited her house many times and kept her waiting that “she would soon hear a good news about her husband” but the statement he has submitted to the court said: “It’s incorrect that she used to hold series of meetings with the undersigned and that I would inform her about the whereabouts of her husband.” Brigadier Mansoor Saeed, ex-Director ISI, Islamabad, said in his statement: “I have never seen, met or interacted with any person named Mr. Masood Janjua nor have any knowledge of his whereabouts.”

Mansoor was accused by Dr. Imran Munir that he had seen Janjua kept in an ISI safe-house located in Westridge, Rawalpindi. Imran, who himself remained in the ISI’s custody, had submitted a sworn affidavit before the Supreme Court. Malik Qayyum had told Hamid Mir of Geo TV that a powerful head of a powerful organisation had confirmed to him that Janjua had been killed. As the police obtained a statement from Hamid Mir, he confirmed being told by Qayyum but said they should better ask him (Qayyum) about the powerful head. As the police approached Qayyum, he did not deny it and said that since it was a privileged secret passed on to him being the AG, he would disclose the name of the ‘powerful head’ only before the court. REFERENCE: Missing person’s case takes dramatic turn Thursday, April 08, 2010 By Umar Cheema

ISLAMABAD: An audit report of the Army-run National University of Modern Languages (NUML) has found that its Rector, a retired Army brigadier, was also receiving the salary of a night watchman (security supervisor), getting tax rebates as a researcher and had sent his daughter and son-in-law abroad using the university scholarships. While the NUML management has given some lame justifications for these acts, the auditors have found them unsatisfactory. The report finds that out of three scholarship grants, two were granted to the Rector’s family members. A grant of Rs 15.4 million allocated for setting up linkages and exchange of visits with the Utrecht University of the Netherlands was used for summer vacation in the UK, the USA, France and Turkey. A hefty amount collected under the head of fine from students was kept aside for discretionary use of the management as “daily expenditures,” the audit report disclosed. Besides, dozens of appointments were made during a period of hiring ban. One such beneficiary, Maj Gen (retd) Owais Mushtaq Qureshi, has now been appointed as Federal Public Service Commission member.

The report finds that Brig. (retd) Aziz Ahmad Khan, the Rector, is not the only official involved in irregularities, he has many partners posted on senior positions like director administration, director finance, director libraries, registrar and director academics. As for drawing money under the garb of a supervisor of security guards, other beneficiaries include his director administration Muhammad Yasin, director finance Muhammad Ashraf, director libraries Muhammad Abbas, registrar Kamran Jahangir and director academics Saeed Akhtar Malik. The Rector, together with his partners, impersonated as security supervisor to collect Rs 620,549 in extra money.

Defending itself, the NUML administration told the auditors that high-level security was organised for the protection of a sizeable number of foreign military students in the university. “This was the time when the security situation in Islamabad was beyond anyone’s control. It was, therefore, decided that high-level security be organised. This included security provided by the agencies and overseen by senior officers of the university. It would be appreciated that the whole night duty would definitely require compensation. Hence, the amount under observation was paid. However, as soon as these sensitive students had completed stay at the campus, the payment was stopped forthwith,” the NUML said. The audit report, however, turned down the plea, saying: “Security didn’t fall under the responsibility of the officers mentioned” and directed the beneficiaries to return the money. The Rector’s daughter, Ayesha, and her husband, Waqas Hassan, are named as the two, out of three beneficiaries, who were granted M Phil leading to PhD scholarships for study in Sussex University, UK. The criteria for granting such awards were not adhered to, the audit report objected, noting that there was no provision of awarding scholarship for higher education in the NUML Ordinance 2000. The university administration responding to this objection said the criteria for selection was transparent, the candidates had fulfilled all the conditions for winning the scholarship and that the Rector was not part of the selection committee. The Rector’s administrative post notwithstanding, he received 75 per cent tax rebate posing as researcher as the facility is available to those involved in research work. Director planning & coordination and registrar also abused this facility, the audit objected.

The NUML’s reply to this charge was that PhD degree holders from foreign university, who also work as teacher and researcher, qualify for the rebate. This justification was also rejected by the auditors who observed that the facility was available only to full-time teachers. As regards the use of Rs 15.4 million allocated for setting up linkages and exchange of visits with the Utrecht University, the project was intended to promote research and development at the postgraduate level. A department called “Government and Organisational Science” was to be established with similar system in currency at the Utrecht University. The staff was to be trained by the Utrecht University with its staff biannual visit to Pakistan be arranged. It was not done; instead the NUML management started using it for foreign visits. “The activities of the project mainly depicts the picture that the programme was made to have foreign visits to UK, USA, France, Netherlands, Turkey during vacations of the university,” noted the audit report. The NUML administration replying to this objection said that the PC-1 provides that joint faculty visits will be undertaken by the Pakistani side in May and June every year because in June and early part of July, Utrecht’s faculty and administrators are free from their routine assignments and can spare more time for research. However, the management didn’t reply as to how the visits to other countries were undertaken using these funds. REFERENCE: NUML rector, directors caught by own auditors Wednesday, January 06, 2010 By Umar Cheema


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