EXCLUSIVE: Anti-Corruption Authorities Expose Nexus Of PTI's Corruption In Punjab

EXCLUSIVE: Anti-Corruption Authorities Expose Nexus Of PTI's Corruption In Punjab
LAHORE: The Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) has registered an FIR against former chief minister Usman Buzdar, Farhat Shahzadi alias Farah Gogi, Ibrahim Maneka (son of Bushra Bibi) and key bureaucrats who were appointed to top positions during chief minister Usman Buzdar’s tenure in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) regime.

Top mandarins are already in the ACE radar for allegedly transferring Rs 450 million to Farah Gogi for the purposes of illegal transfers and postings, kickbacks, commissions, as well as monthly extortion money to retain the key positions they ‘bought’, The Friday Times (TFT) has learnt.

In its first information report (FIR), The ACE has nominated former chief minister Punjab Usman Buzdar, Farhat Shahzadi alias Farah Gogi, former principal secretary to the chief minister Tahir Khurshid, former deputy commissioner Lahore Saleha Saeed, former director general (DG) LDA Usman Muazzum, Sohail Khawaja, Ibrahim Khawar Maneka. Farah’s personal secretary Muhammad Asif is also among others nominated in the FIR.

Sources privy to this development confirmed to TFT that Farah Gogi’s cashier, Ahmad Mansoor Nawaz admitted in his confessional statement that he had deposited Rs 450 million cash in Farah Gogi’s Silk Bank account (at its Liberty branch in Lahore) which he had received from top bureaucrats, including Tahir Khurshid (known by his initials ‘TK’), Saleha Saeed, Usman Muazzam, Ahmed Aziz Tarrar, Sohail Khawaja and others.

Nawaz has already confessed to having directly received cash money from these bureaucrats at her 99Y Block DHA Residence, and thereafter depositing it in Farah Gogi’s bank account. Farah Gogi’s accounts manager Ahmad Mansoor has also impleaded himself as a state's witness in the ongoing investigation.

Ibrahim Maneka's 'share in cash' 

One of the investigation officers privy to the investigations regarding widespread corruption during the PTI's government in Punjab confirmed to TFT that former first lady Bushra Bibi's son Ibrahim Maneka used to visit Farah Gogi’s home regularly "to get his share" against facilitating the illegal transfer postings, and in the kickbacks as well as the monthly extortion money.

“When we checked the dates of those payments in the shape of cash which were deposited to Farhat Shahzadi's account, those dates matched with the time of postings of these officials at said position,” a senior official familiar with the case told TFT.

“These officials used to give me cash against transfer postings of officials, monthly extortion money (for staying on position) and for other activities, and I used to transfer it to madam Farah Gogi’s personal account,” Ahmad Mansoor Nawaz has confessed in his statement.

Nawaz, along with Farah Gogi’s personal secretary Muhammad Asif, also confirmed that they had given cash to Ibrahim Maneka, who used to visit Farah Gogi’s Lahore Defence home regularly.

Sources from ACE confirmed that the nominated persons were involved in corruption worth billions of rupees. So far, it has been established during the course of investigation that Gogi received Rs 450 million in the shape of bribes from these bureaucrats. "Once the arrest of these accused bureaucrats and other individuals are made, more details of corruption are likely to surface," a senior official purported.

The senior official maintained that in light of the cashier's confessional statement, ACE will carry out raids and arrest other suspects and eyewitnesses.

Top Punjab bureaucrats working as Farah Gogi’s ‘B-Team’

A senior bureaucrat, speaking on condition of anonymity due to ongoing inquiries, said that all of these bureaucrats who enjoyed lucrative posts in Punjab during PTI’s tenure actually worked as the ‘B-team’ of Farah Gogi. “They were effectively her proxies in the Punjab bureaucracy.

“The confession statement of the account is just the tip of the iceberg, and after the arrest of these officials, more names are likely to surface,” the bureaucrat surmised.

More bureaucrats likely to get exposed during investigation 

An official familiar with the evidence seen by the investigation team also affirmed that once these bureaucrats were taken into custody, it was highly likely that “bigger names” would come to light as having been part of this racket, which made billions of rupees through illegal transfers, postings and kickbacks during the PTI government in the Punjab from 2018 to 2022.

Sources maintained that once these senior bureaucrats become part of the investigation, as suspects or witnesses, it was more likely that high profile bureaucrats would be exposed for paying heavy sums of money to Farah Gogi through them.

“As soon as the arrests of Tahir Khurshid, Saleha Saeed, and others who were very close to Usman Buzdar and Farah Gogi are made, or they are made part of the investigation, it would help us a great deal in cracking this case wide open. This involves losses worth billions of rupees to national exchequer,” an ACE investigating officer told TFT.

Nexus of Farah Gogi, Bushra Bibi and Usman Buzdar exposed 

Sources maintained that Tahir Khurshid had worked very closely with Farah Gogi and Usman Buzdar when the latter was chief minister Punjab, and once Khurshid was arrested, the nexus of Farah Gogi, Usman Buzdar, Bushra Bibi and Ahsan Gujjar would stand exposed.

"It would become crystal clear how they used to operate in Punjab, and how much money they minted thanks to the inordinate sway they had over troubled former premier and PTI chairman Imran Khan," a source postulated.

The writer is a senior correspondent at The Friday Times with a focus on politics, economy and militancy. He also hosts the Hassan Naqvi Show on Naya Daur.