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Alarm Bell Rings for Rawalpindi Ring Road Scam: PM’s aide resigns as NAB decides to probe RRR project

The PM’s top aide stepped down while another cried foul.

The multimillion-dollar infrastructure project in Rawalpindi has associated two names, Zulfikar Bukhari, the special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis, and Ghulam Sarwar Khan, the federal aviation minister after the national graft-buster decided to open an inquiry into alleged anomalies.

The 65-kilometre Rawalpindi Ring Road (RRR) was illegally changed this year to benefit several private housing projects, according to fact-finding reports, which were commissioned to find out alleged illegalities, corruption and conflict of interest in the project.

The real estate developers who allegedly benefited from the RRR realignment included Nova City, Capital Smart City, New Airport City/Al Asif Housing, Top City, SAS Developers, Blue World and Islamabad Capital Housing Society.

Action against Zulfi Bukhari and Ghulam Sarwar is demanded by the same opposition who had approved the realignment.

Zulfikar Bukhari resigned as SAPM on Monday to defend himself.

“My prime minister [Imran Khan] has always said that if a person has been named rightly or wrongly in any inquiry, he should cease to hold any public office till his name has been cleared of charges.”

He wrote in a series of tweets.

“Owing to the allegations in the ongoing Ring Road inquiry, I want to set this example by resigning from office until my name is cleared up of any allegations and media’s obnoxious lies,” he wrote on his verified handle.

“I reiterate that I have nothing to do with the Ring Road or any ongoing real estate project. This time the inquiry should be done by capable personnel, I endorse a judicial inquiry.”

He added.

Bukhari also said that he would stand by the prime minister and his vision as he had already sacrificed his life overseas to come and serve his country. “I am ready to face any inquiry,” he added.

Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar, meanwhile, rejected the inquiry report while offering himself up for a “transparent investigation” by NAB, ISI or any other agency. “Prove that I own even an inch of land on Ring Road and I’ll quit politics for good,” he told the media on Monday.

Instead, he announced that he would file a damage suit against the person who levelled allegations against him. The minister said he would welcome a NAB inquiry into the allegations.

The developments came hours after NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal ordered an inquiry into the alleged corruption, irregularities and illegal land acquisition in the RRR realignment project. He directed NAB Rawalpindi to conduct an inquiry without any discrimination, on merit, and in accordance with the law in a transparent manner.

“Those responsible should be identified keeping in view all the aspects of the said project so that they can be brought to justice in accordance with the law.”

The NAB chairman was quoted as saying in the notification.

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