–KP govt had ‘illegally’ leased out 275 acres of Malam Jabba land to a private company
–Bureau’s executive board to decide on filing references against Pervez Khattak, others
ISLAMABAD: In line with the terms and conditions of the amended ordinance, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to continue investigating the Malam Jabba scandal until the case reaches its logical conclusion.
The anti-graft watchdog reviewed the case in light of the National Accountability (Second Amendment) Ordinance, 2019, during a pre-executive board meeting which was held at the NAB headquarters on January 13. Along with four other inquiries, the anti-corruption body decided to continue investigating the Malam Jabba scandal because it was started before the promulgation of the amended ordinance on December 28, 2019.
The meeting reviewed the case and forwarded the matter to the executive board for taking a decision on the filing of references against Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, former additional chief secretary Khalid Pervaiz, Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Mushtaq Khan and other government officials.
The anti-graft watchdog is currently investigating the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government (2013-2018) for illegally leasing out 275 acres of land in Malam Jabba to a private company in violation of KP Forest Ordinance, 2002, which prohibits the use of the protected forest for any other purpose.
NAB claimed that initially the government leased out 17 acres to a private company for 15 years for the construction of a hotel and a chairlift project, however, it later leased out 275 acres for 33 years.
As the investigation surfaced, the provincial government claimed that the forest and tourism departments were involved in a dispute over the ownership of the land. It added that the land was gifted to the government in 1969 by the former ruler of the princely state of Swat for the promotion of tourism in the country.
The provincial government also claimed that it had sought parties experienced in tourism through an advertisement issued in March 2014 in order to award the lease for 275 acres of land (five acres for the construction of a hotel and 270 acres for a ski/chairlift site) for 33 years, which could be extended for another 20 years.
However, according to sources, the private company which eventually was given the lease of the land was not eligible for the contract and the officials had misused their power to award the contract to their favourite company in violation of rules and regulations.