Elmo caught with his hand in the cookie jar!

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The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop has been allegedly found involved in financial misappropriation of millions of dollars received as a part of the USAID-funded project, Pakistan Children’s TV (PCTV).
Reliable sources told Pakistan Today that USAID has already issued notifications regarding the suspension of aid for the programme meant to educate Pakistani children, over ‘severe’ irregularities.
According to the details, the USAID pledged $20 million to the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop (RPTW) which was the sole recipient of the aid while it worked in collaboration with Sesame Street, US.
The project to be initiated with the aid received was to educate the country’s children through entertaining puppet shows broadcast through TV, radio and outreach programmes over a period of four years. Children were to be taught basics such as counting, alphabets, ethics and cleanliness.
Rafi Peer was supposed to complete 78 fresh episodes of the programme ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ in three years, starting from 2010. Currently, however, only the first season has managed to come on-air, while other major portions of the programme, including the radio and outreach programmes have not even been touched.
Sources privy to the development revealed that lack of proper planning, mismanagement and financial irregularities have all been rampant throughout the project leading to an initial delay of a year and a half and finally the suspension of aid, as USAID has already notified the RPTW that it will not fund the programme after September 30.
The RPTW, on their part, have also issued notices to their employees informing them about this development.
Sources claimed that the initial delay in commencing the programme was a result of the ‘inefficiency’ on the part of the Rafi Peer Theatre in coming up with a proper script acceptable to Sesame Street, which was a partner and would approve the script as many of the puppets were its patents. They also said the project amount got revised to $10 million due to certain reasons.
“The delay was only the tip of the iceberg and paled in comparison to what followed. The Peerzadas turned the project into a family affair, awarding all key posts to close relatives, who drew hefty salaries in millions of rupees despite the fact that the programme was mired in delays,” said a source working in the programme.
According to details, Faizaan Peerzada was the chief of the company, Sadaan Peerzada was appointed the programme director, Usman Peerzada the production director, Imran Peerzada head of content, Tasneem Peerzada the senior writer, Sadaan’s wife Mirela the senior creative manager, Sadaan’s daughter Yamina Peerzada was first hired as the creative manager and later as a puppeteer when her contract ended. Sadaan’s elder daughter Alina Peerzada was working as the operations director and Sadaan’s ex-wife Dur-e-Sameen was hired as the set architect.
The sources further alleged that ‘severe’ misappropriations have been committed in procurements, adding that the facilities and money meant for the project have been used to pay off personal debts. “The SUVs provided by USAID for the project were in personal use of the Peerzadas while USAID money was used to pay off their personal as well as Rafi Peer’s debts,” they said.
“The Rafi Peer Theatre had not given salaries to its employees for the past eight months. When they got the USAID contract, they not only settled the salaries, but other dues to the tune of million of rupees to different companies they were indebted to,” the source said. “The entire procurement process is fishy as the tenders were all faked. The theatre would select only those vendors who would ‘accommodate’ them.”
The source added that Rafi Peer also paid off old debts, such as paying around Rs 15 million to Channel Tech for technical equipment. Moreover, expensive security systems were installed at their houses in violation of the contract.
In a very recent incident, Rafi Peer’s owners had their land evaluated for renting it out for the project by their own consultant who estimated its value at a rate much higher than the market value.
The official also alleged that the music contract, like all others, was also given to a ‘blue-eyed’ artist, neglecting renowned musician Meekal Hassan who also took part in the bidding.
A senior official working on the programme said on the condition of anonymity that the misappropriation of money was bad enough without the Rafi Peer Theatre neglecting to broadcast any content.
The contract included radio and outreach programmes as well which did not even take off, as they did not hire anyone for the purpose, the source said, adding that a team of experts was supposed to visit rural areas to educate children on various themes through puppet shows. “These programmes were also to be dubbed in regional languages to be telecast throughout the year across the country,” the official added.
The official stated that the RPTW administration has been offering various ‘attractions’ to the USAID officials concerned for turning a blind eye to the ‘looting spree’, because such blatant misuse of US taxpayers’ money would have been ‘impossible’ in such a strict financial discipline.
When approached, Rafi Peer spokesperson Faizaan Peerzada first refused to comment but then hastened to add that “the information regarding suspension of aid is nothing more than a rumour”.
On the other hand, the US Consulate’s information officer said the USAID’s participation in the programme was concluding on September 30 by mutual agreement of USAID and the Rafi Peer Theatre workshop, which would have received $10 million by then.
“This does not mean that the ‘Sim Sim Hamara’ programme will end… it just means that the USAID participation in the programme has concluded. USAID constantly reviews programmes to make sure they are efficient and have maximum impact,” she said, while refusing to comment further on the issue.



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34 Comments

  1. Symbol said:

    A slap on the face of so-called liberals.

    • Freedom! said:

      Fake report, full of accusations and over statements!YELLOW JOURNALISM!

      • Kermit Khan said:

        Who would know better about fake reporting and gross misrepresentations than a stooge of the Peerzada Marasees…

        • Freedom said:

          Seems some one's roasting to see Sesame excel!People love this show :) Get some life… :)

  2. Babar Khan said:

    This is exactly the cloth the Peerzadas are cut from. They cheat, lie and steal, and all in the name of charity. They have left a wake of service providers with unpaid bills and now their corruption has gained the limelight.

    • Khan Electrician said:

      Yes these Rafi Peer clowns owe me a lot of money for services rendered to them. Is there anyone from USAID who can help ensure that we get our money from these liars and thieves.

  3. farhat said:

    The report is a plant on the face of it. Accusation is one thing and substantiating is another. Is Pakistan Today operating sane an editor or news editor

    • Zaeem Aulia said:

      I think you need to go to the Rafi Peer Theater on Raiwind Road and see the set up these cheats have there. And they run a cafe and have been swindling donors out of money by pretending to be a charity. All these Peerzada Maraasees need to be locked up.

      • Uzair B said:

        I have been there. Yes it truly is amazing how much they have swindled and how much they have built up at the expense of some stupid donor. Man these Peerzada brothers are ugly too.

    • Sara said:

      Agreed. This report is completely baseless and they have not provided us with any facts of evidence just accusations. It's funny how media institutions talking about corruption are themselves subject to it and being bought off left, right and center. Where is the follow up for this story? Or is it enough to just send a company into a series of audits and judgements.

  4. activist said:

    Yup this editor is gone far personal in this report, an evidence based report would help but from a worthy news editor !!

  5. ahmed said:

    how quick to cast our stones…….! curios……

  6. activist said:

    The writer lacks code of ethics, professional integrity which are cornerstone of a journalist's credibility … Ah, I wish we could produce good journalists !! to depict and present problems through a scientific approach.

  7. niazi said:

    If it takes maraasees like the peerzada brothers to deliver on their word, then so be it! They have been trail blazers in Pakistan in the performing arts long before "millions"struck them. Seems like the millions really broke some hearts out there!

  8. activist said:

    If some 1 is producing good program for millions of children inside Pakistan and Globally they should be treated with due respect, what are we trying to prove here by using slang words ..

  9. Jehangir KT said:

    I suggest to USAID to hang the peerzada clan upside down for bringing disgrace to our civil society. No wonder no one trusts NGOs anymore

    • belligerent1 said:

      Sir with due respect . . . before commenting so harsh for any one .. r u sure this young journalist is rite. being a mother of two kids i know how much my kids and even when i was a kid enjoyed and learned alot through their programms.

  10. Miss Piggy said:

    I hate these Peerzada brothers. They are only good for hard drinking and partying. I wonder how much of USAID money was spent on black label and grey goose. I have two words for the Peerzada clan: External Audit!!!!!

    • Legend said:

      almost every ngo or corporate these days has to face external audit at least once or twice a year, suggest something better…

    • LeGeNd said:

      Almost every ngo or corporate faces external audit these days, you don't sound convincing! b.t.w "nice name" you have chosen ;)

      • belligerent1 said:

        Dirty mind speaks their mentality… JUST LIKE THEIR NAMES

  11. anonymous said:

    The Peerzada family has been contributing to arts and culture for decades now. if they had to misappropriate funds they would have done it a LONG TIME AGO.

    One can tell from a mile away that this story is hogwash.

  12. activist said:

    Just imagine ppl watch such a nice educational show even in rural areas and still ppl are blogging to defame it ..

  13. ProudPakistani said:

    Baseless allegations and no proof. a case of sour grapes from the vendors who didnt get the contracts, wonder why they didnt claim any irregularities then?

  14. Mr.Sharif said:

    The Peerzada family has done more than anyone to promote peace, tolerance and pakistani culture. They have won laurels for the country around the world and brought thousands to Pakistan, showing them a different side to what the media portrays. Its sad that they are being attacked in their own country. Most comments here seem to be borne out of jealousy and pettiness. Sad.

  15. MYSElF said:

    its bollocks Em. Can u imagine a production that has bi monthly audits and a financial team hired by USAID doing this? Cos the US govt is reducing aid its true the yanks are not funding for 4 years as originally planned but 2 – however its amazing all the "vendors" who lost out then are speaking up now! why didnt they talk then? It is just a case of serious sour grapes. check the show out on Youtube, see the amazing production values and musical score and then tell me if u reckon they got anything wrong? this country cannot enjoy anyone doing well, a real pity.

  16. Ali Maher said:

    Dirty mind speaks their mentality disregarding to the benefits of the program which is being run by the organization and funded by USAID. I am watching this program and say that program is fabulous and sponsor and the funding agency should not give any importance to such allegation and continue their good work

  17. Expat Pakistan said:

    Cant believe these Peerzada family did that, all this money belong to the children of Pakistan and they took their money. Ass**oles. How much is enough Peerzadas, we though you were the artist people who care for the people. Shame on you Peerzadas. And I am sure you will all pay for it in this world and the next one.

  18. belligerent1 said:

    shame on u ,,,,, without any prove or evidence u r ignoring Rafi Peers 40 years of services and blindly believe on the young jouranlist who is earning cheap publicity by yellow journalism …..

  19. yaqeen said:

    kuch to log kahain gay…logon ka kaam hai kehna
    choro baikaar kee baaton ko………………….

  20. Ali said:

    All the evidence one needs is how these people were running the show. The whole clan was put in high places while the workers didn't get paid for 8 months. Are you telling me that there isn't one capable person Peerzadas could have hired to manage say operations or marketing, other than their own?? This sort nepotism ruins a society and whatever hope it may have.

    I'd say its a win for Pakistan Transparency International and Pakistan Today. Good work.

  21. Sad Ali, Sad. said:

    This company has been run by family members since the past 30 years, Ali. Its a FAMILY run organization. USAID KNEW this when they granted the company the project. Who said the workers didn't get paid? Do you have PROOF for that? It's sad that we base our opinions on slander. For shame, sir. For shame.

  22. Sara said:

    Its unbelievable to read comments like 'Miss Piggy's'.Rafi Peer Theatre workshop is a family company that has worked their whole life to bring arts culture and entertainment to pakistani families, from their dynamic festivals to puppeteering in pakistan. what they do in their personal time should not be discussed. There is absolutely no evidence, and i cant believe that we have forgotten all their hard work and are accusing them without any factual evidence. wake up pakistan!

  23. Zaineb said:

    Have you watched the program sir? If you have you can't speak of nepotism because it is a funny run organization and has been for the past 40 years and Sim Sim Hamara is one of the highest quality shows I have seen in my life, it is at par with international sesame streets – you can see where every penny went in the show.
    If you call that article in Pakistan Today good work then your opinion really doesn't matter since that article is full of slander and not a single shred of evidence or any facts – or follow up for that matter. What ruins Pakistani society is the people turning on each other at the drop of a hat. Shame.

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