$5bn embezzlement revealed in overseas Pakistanis contributed 2005 quake funds

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Nation special report
ISLAMABAD: In a series of financial irregularities in government schemes, another embezzlement of over $5 billion has been surfaced. That huge amount was meant to provide relief to earthquake affectees in 2005 but they were not benefited in 13 years.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday took a suo moto notice of this alleged embezzlement. The fund was largely contributed by overseas Pakistanis.

The top judge sought a response from the government within 10 days while remarking how was the money spent on other projects including the Multan Metro and the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Reportedly, he expressed dissatisfaction on measures being taken by the federal government in the rehabilitation of the survivors of the devastating earthquake of 2005.

Furthermore, he also summoned National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lieutenant General Omar Mahmood Hayat on next Monday.“If Balakot city and dams are not constructed, I will protest alongside the general public,” he said while expressing grave concerns on condition of people living under makeshift prefabricated houses in severe cold temperatures and an indefinite delay in New Balakot Housing project.

 “The PM should have visited those areas,” he said, asking that if he as the CJP could visit such places on notice of four hours why could not the PM? “Schools and health facilities were all destroyed in the entire region, but are still not reconstructed despite the passage of 11 years,” he said further.

Replying to his concerns, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor claimed that the PM was not aware of the situation. Justice Nisar asked him how was he not aware of the province’s situation. “Then, they complain on our judicial activism, we do not like to assert our authority,” he added.

It may be recalled that CJP saqib Nisar visited Balakot and other AJK areas in April 2018 to review the rehabilitation work after hearing of the alleged embezzlement of billions of dollars financial assistance extended by the international community for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the 2005 earthquake survivors.

The interior ministry officials informed the top court that the government had received 2.89 billion dollars as financial assistance extended by the international community. However, the petitioner raised objection over the inclusion of 55 billion into the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

The Justice Nisar stated many Generals joined ERRA on deputation, adding the use of quake victims’ fund for other issues is a crime. The CJP remarked during the suo motu hearing against alleged embezzlement in the 2005 earthquake funds. A three-member bench led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard the case.