PESHAWAR: A special anti-corruption court on Tuesday granted bail to PML-N, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, president Amir Muqam’s son and four others arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency on the charge of causing a huge loss to the exchequer by poor construction of Alpuri-Bisham Road in Shangla district.

Judge Syed Kamal Hussain Shah accepted the bail petitions of Mr Muqam’s son Ishtiaq Ahmad, who is the director of his family’s firm, AM and Company, three resident engineers of the Associated Consulting Engineers, the consultant for the project, including Mohammad Ashfaq, Mohammad Ayaz and Mohammad Arshad, and attorney holder at Mohammad Irshad and Company Mohammad Ali asking them to furnish two surety bond of Rs500,000 each.

The petitioners were arrested on May 13 and were sent to prison on judicial remand by the court on May 17.

Lawyer for Ishtiaq Ahmad accuses ruling PTI of victimising rivals

The FIA claimed that the communication ministry had sought an inquiry complaining in Nov 2018 that the Alpuri-Bisham Road’s rehabilitation and widening had caused a heavy loss to the exchequer due to improper execution and non-compliance with the National Highway Authority’s rules.

The agency carried out the inquiry finding out that the original scope of work was enhanced by more than 15 per cent wherein such enhanced work was executed under the running contract against the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority Rule No 42-C (IV).

It also revealed that work was delayed, while no penalty was imposed over such delay and that extension in time limits wasn’t regularised.

Lawyers Mudassir Amir and Saqib Khan defended Ishtiaq and Mohammad Ali in the court, whereas Mian Muhibullah Kakakhel was the counsel for the three resident engineers.

They contended that it was a case of political victimisation as federal minister for communication Murad Saeed was instrumental in the registration of FIR as he had written to the FIA and other anti-corruption bodies to begin probe into the matter.

The counsel said Ishtiaq Ahmad had submitted all documents to the FIA, while no wrongdoing had taken place in the project.

They added that even the FIA was not clear about the illegality committed by their clients in the project.

Mr Kakakhel said the road project was under way but payments for it had yet to be made by the government.

He denied corruption in the project.

The lawyer said both complainant and Amir Muqam’s son were political rivals and that the latter was implicated in a politically-motivated case.

He said it was a simple civil case of contractual obligation and dispute resolution clause had been inserted in the agreement.

Mr Kakakhel said if there were differences among parties, the matter should go to arbitration.

He said the records showed that work was carried out satisfactorily but some criminal negligence was found.

The lawyer, however, said Section 409 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act were inserted in the case though they were not applicable.

He said floods in Malakand division had caused a loss to exchequer and delayed the project for which a specific clause was mentioned in the contract under which the government was bound to pay or reimburse the additional amount incurred in cases of natural disasters.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2019