Sunday, September 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Musharraf orders inquiry
Nasir, Niazi embezzled funds for Pak gurdwaras
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
In an endeavour to assuage hurt feelings of overseas Sikhs, the Chief Executive of Pakistan, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has ordered a high-level inquiry into the working of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) after sacking its present Chairman, Major-Gen Inayatullah Khan Niazi (retd).

The inquiry has been ordered against both General Niazi and his predecessor, Lieut-Gen Javed Nasir (retd), who once headed the notorious ISI. General Nasir had relinquished charge as the ETPB chief on July 16, 2001, after he was refused extension.

There have been serious complaints of large scale embezzlement and misappropriation of funds belonging to Hindu and Sikh charitable trusts and shrines attached to the board.

The allegations against General Niazi are that 12 kg of gold and Rs 1.65 crore which were given as “donation to Sikh shrines in Pakistan” by overseas Sikhs have disappeared.

The issue was first raised by The News, an English daily of the Jang group, on August 24 when it ran a screaming headline that Lieut-Gen Javed Nasir has “fled the country after devouring an estimated Rs 3 billion through the sale of precious ETPB lands at rock bottom prices and financial bungling in the board’s buildings.”

General Nasir, however, showed up at the Lahore Press Club the next day and denied allegations.

General Musharraf has named A.M. Mengel, a retired High Court Judge; Mr Israr Hussain, Special Investigation Officer on corruption charges of FIA; Mr Ibbat Ahmed, Deputy Director Investigation, National Accountability Bureau ( a virtual parallel to India’s CVC), and Ch Mohammad Amin, a former Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Punjab, and presently DDIB, as members of the inquiry committee.

The committee will submit its report to the Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau.

The committee has also been asked to look into allegations of money laundering through “hawala transactions” by General Nasir in connivance with Mr Manmohan Singh Bajaj of the Dal Khalsa International and Mr Avtar Singh Sanghera of the Babbar Khalsa International.

The third reference to the inquiry committee is to investigate misappropriation of funds collected for the construction of 100-room hostel in the Dera Sahib Gurdwara at Lahore.

“But as and when Sikhs from India or abroad questioned the delay in the construction of the project, they would get a reply from General Nasir that Muslim residents living in the periphery of the gurdwara were objecting to it,” the reports said.

Initial reports suggest that the high-powered inquiry committee has also questioned Mr Lakhbir Singh Rode to seek details about 50 per cent of the offerings that tillers of the gurdwara land around historic Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib (Hassan Abdal) were supposed to deposit with the gurdwaras. Besides, the rent or funds collected from shops in the periphery of gurdwaras was also not accounted for.

The reported explanation given by Mr Rode that the offerings had been used for langar and also in repair and renovation of gurdwara buildings did not find favour with the committee.

The inquiry committee was also reportedly questioning General Nasir about his frequent trips to Canada, especially one in July this year where he was reportedly seen in the company of Mr Manmohan Singh Bajaj.

According to reports reaching here, Rode, too, has been moved from Lahore to Islamabad by the ISI.

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