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24 March 2017 Last updated 3 hours ago

Former GB CM being investigated for embezzlement

Syed Mehdi Shah Syed Mehdi Shah

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Gilgit-Baltistan has started investigations into alleged embezzlement during the previous chief minister Syed Mehdi Shah’s government. “This was decided in a meeting chaired by PAC Chairman Captain (retd) Sikandar Ali,” said a spokesman of G-B Assembly Saifur Rehman on Tuesday.

“A PAC subcommittee has been constituted to look into it,” the spokesman told. The committee will be headed by Captain (retd) Ali and will submit its report within two weeks.

Captain Ali was elected from Rondu constituency on an Islami Tehrik Pakistan (ITP) ticket. The ITP is an opposition party in the G-B assembly, where JUI, MWM, and PPP are also on the opposition benches.

In his term as chief minister from 2010 to December 2014, Shah – a PPP leader – received around Rs800,000 as leave allowance even though he did not go anywhere. “Even if he availed one month leave, he could claim Rs39,000 at most,” read an official statement issued earlier by the PAC.

In addition, Shah also reportedly received Rs8 million in the name of a camp office in Islamabad, though he was occupying a VIP suite in G-B House, Islamabad.

“According to law, the chief minister is entitled to have only one office at a time,” the spokesman said while referring to discussions that took place during the PAC meeting.

The former CM’s name also came under the scanner last year when it was revealed he entitled himself to a lifetime pension.

The entitlement was made possible by a decision passed by the G-B cabinet during the final year of his term as chief minister. However, little was known about the decision, until Shah availed the facilities twice after completing his term in December 2014.

Under the decision, Shah was entitled to receive Rs350,000 as a monthly pension and unlimited perks till his death.

Shah later claimed that the unusually high pension was granted by his cabinet members.

Hafeezur Rehman, after becoming next chief minister in 2015, termed Shah’s actions tantamount to corruption and an example of the misuse of political power in the country.