AGP Office mired in corruption allegations

AGP Ahmed Awais, former DDO Anees Hashmi trade barbs over new appointments and misappropriation of funds

In what can be said a major blow to the professional environment of Advocate General Punjab (AGP)-the constitutional office, the differences emerged between incumbent Punjab principal law officer Ahmed Awais and senior lawyer Anees Hashmi who had earlier been serving there as Drawing and Dispersing Officer (DDO) over some accusations involving new appointments and furniture.

The differences came to the limelight after Advocate Anees Hashmi opened up about the recent appointments in the Advocate General Punjab and the allegations of corruption against him for buying some articles of furniture worth Rs3.2 million. Ahmed Awais is serving as Advocate General Punjab for the third time while Anees Hashmi had served earlier as Additional Advocate General Punjab before serving as Drawing and Dispersing Officer (DDO) at Advocate General Punjab Office.

Both Awais and Hashmi are also associated with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).  However, the PTI top leadership replaced Hashmi with Shadab Jafri as Chief Organizer of Insaf-Lawyers-Forum (ILF) in Punjab. Talking to MinuteMirror, both the lawyers expressed their views and opinions involving the controversy over the said accusations of ‘illegal appointments and furniture deal’.

Advocate Anees Hashmi, who was ILF Punjab President till last month of August, said that he called on PTI Chairman Imran Khan in Islamabad earlier this month and came to know about the accusation of corruption in buying ‘furniture worth Rs2.3 million’. “The chairman [Imran Khan] told me that Ahmed Awais informed him that Hashmi was involved in corruption of Rs2.3 million furniture,” said Hashmi, explaining that the matter of furniture was fabricated to tarnish his image in the eyes of Imran Khan.

The lawyer said, “I told Mr. Imran Khan that the accusation of buying furniture was baseless and it is fake like Thosha Khana is fake.” However, he said he came back from Islamabad and started an inquiry to know about what he said was a baseless and fake case of “buying furniture worth Rs2.3 million”. Hashmi who had also fought for the PTI and its chairman on many legal fronts termed this move as a “deep-rooted conspiracy” and alleged that Ahmed Awais was involved in illegal appointments and he got a ‘naib qasid’ appointed there besides his own driver.

He alleged that Awais was close to the PML-N, sold many posts through a junior additional advocate general, and was involved in illegal appointments at the Constitutional office. He further alleged that a junior of Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar was also given a job at the office which indicated that Awais was close to the PML-N.  The Fake signatures, he alleged, were used for the illegal appointment. Besides this, Hashmi was of the view that AGP Awais had also not been officer bearer of Insaf Lawyers Forum all these years.

“There are many faces you will see roaming around Imran Khan. But I am an old worker of PTI and I have been associated with it since 1996,” said Hashmi, adding that he fought on many legal fronts for the party and his leader Imran Khan. “I fought for Imran Khan for NA-122 against Ayaz Sadiq and we won,” he added. Contending the allegation of buying furniture in an illegal way, the lawyer said that if something did not even exist then how could someone be held responsible or accused?

DDO, he said, he could not approve anything beyond the cost of Rs200,000 and there were certain procedural steps if anything, for instance, the furniture of Rs2.3 million, is purchased for any government office. “There are PPRA rules and tender processing required to purchase anything for the government department,” he contended. Hashmi said he had written two letters to PTI Chairman Imran Khan over the issue and asked him to form a high power commission for inquiry.

“I sent letters to my leader by following the party discipline and want him to get it investigated, because being a worker, it’s my right,” he said, pointing out that certain elements were making efforts to sideline him but he would fight back. “I will go to the maximum extent for my right and may approach the court for justice,” he said, aggressively.

On the other hand, Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais rejected the allegations levelled by Advocate Hashmi and said that he did not make any complaint to PTI Chairman Imran Khan about him. He said an independent inquiry committee comprising three additional advocate generals headed by the Punjab Law Secretary was holding the inquiry into the matter. He rejected the claim of Anees Hashmi about the illegal appointments at the AGP office, saying that “these peoples were the part of inquiry committees who made recruitments”.

When asked that the matter of furniture took place when he was holding the office as head of the department to which he replied, “I was not aware of all such things”. “Now a regular inquiry has been initiated and let’s see what comes out,” he added.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at fidahassanain@gmail.com.

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