The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed on Tuesday the attorney-general to submit details of the programme, ‘Let Girls Learn’, under which former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, had pledged $70 million for the promotion of girls’ education in Pakistan.
A division bench, headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, was hearing a petition seeking directives for the national anti-graft watchdog to investigate an alleged embezzlement of multi-million-dollar funds.
The petition had been filed by Bisma Noreen, who nominated former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and the federal authorities concerned over the alleged embezzlement in the women’s education project.
The petitioner informed the judges that Michelle and Maryam had launched the ‘Let Girls Learn’ programme at the White House in July 2016 for the promotion of girls’ education in Pakistan.
She said the programme, worth $70 million, aimed to educate young girls, help build over a dozen new schools and renovate hundreds of others across the country.
The court was informed that the agreement, which was meant to benefit 200,000 girls in the country, seemed to have been held in the abeyance or the amount has been embezzled as so far, no practical steps have been taken in this regard.
The petitioner further pleaded to the court to direct the federal authorities to explain in what capacity the former prime minister’s daughter had signed the agreement with the former US first lady.
Noreen also requested to direct the authorities concerned to submit details of the progress, if any, made so far on the programme. The petitioner further sought a direction for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
During the hearing, the federal law officer told the judges that he had written to the respondents, including the federal finance ministry, Maryam and NAB, but all had yet to respond. Therefore, he sought more time to submit their comments.
Granting the request, the bench allowed time till October 16 to the deputy attorney-general to furnish details regarding the funds that had been spent or lying unspent under the programme.