ISLAMABAD: While the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government has not yet decided about the minister to man the Ministry of Housing and Works, the reign spanning over past two tenures of former housing minister Akram Durrani of Jamaat-e-Ulema-Fazl (JUI-F) is inundated with scandals, investigations, inquiries and delays in projects despite the fact that he had been at the helm of affairs during both Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) regime and Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz’s (PML-N) government.
By the end of the previous government, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal had ordered an inquiry against federal housing minister Akram Khan Durrani over the misuse of power and illegal allotment of plots in various developed sectors namely, I-12 and I-16 of Islamabad.
On other hand, since 2016, scores of corruption cases against officials of Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF), Pakistan Public Works Department (PWD), Estate office, and Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation are under investigation by NAB, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and departmental inquiry boards.
A total of 67 inquiries of corruption are underway against officers of PWD alone. Out of these, 32 are being conducted by NAB, 22 are under investigation by FIA, while 13 cases are being investigated by the respective department under Government Servants (Efficiency and Discipline) Rules, 1973.
A total of 32 inquiries and cases of corruption in FGEHF are under process by the respective department of the accused persons and some of them are under process in the Ministry of Housing and Works. It is pertinent to mention here that FGEHF has failed to initiate any new scheme and the work on its Bara Kahu and F-14 schemes are in doldrums as the allottees are made to run from pillar to the post.
Both Estate Office, that deals with allotment and maintenance of government accommodation in Capital and Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation, that is trusted with planning and constructing new housing projects for government servants, have three and four inquiries respectively against corrupt officials which are under investigation.
Interestingly, all the inquiries and cases are under investigation by respective departments, under trial in NAB courts or were referred to civil courts by FIA. No responsibility has been fixed in most cases despite lapse of many years.
It is pertinent to mention that all of these departments come under Ministry of Housing and Works formerly headed by Akram Khan Durrani.
While in power Akram Durrani reiterated that his ministry focused on anti-corruption campaigns and officers have been sent on the anti-corruption conferences organised by the NAB and several other training programs against corruption.
Despite many promises, the strict adherence to rules in the disposal of allotment and rent recovery cases, system of internal checks and vigilance failed to curb corruption.
The Ministry of Housing and Works is responsible for acquisition and development of sites as well as construction and maintenance of Federal Government buildings and is actively involved in the coordination of civil works, budget, fixation and recovery of rents from Government owned/ hired and requisitioned buildings.
Furthermore, it deals with acquisition and development of sites, construction, furnishing and maintenance of Federal Government Building except under the Defence Division, coordination of civil works budget and execution of Federal Government Works.
Provision of Office and Residential Accommodation for officers and staff of the Federal Government, acquisition, requisition and hiring of such accommodation and payment of compensation or rent also fall under its domain.
Ministry of Housing Spokesperson and Joint Secretary Jamil Ahmed Khan said that the plots were meant for mosques in I-12 and I-16 and were allocated to particular sects as per the policy of PHA.
However the court issued a stay and ordered that PHA keeps the possession of these mosques and appoints the Imams belonging to various sects in the mosques as per the share of different sects in population.
“The inquiries against various officers have been pending for past 15-16 years with FIA, NAB and a plethora of cases are pending before various courts, it would be unjust to blame it all on the former minister who has initiated major steps like Kurri Road, Bars Kahu Society Development of G-13 among other feats,” said Jamil Ahmed Khan whose name made it to news last year for occupying the Post of CEO Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation (PHAF), a Grade 21 post while he was Deputy Secretary, a Grade 19 officer.
Despite repeated attempts, Durrani was not available for comment.