By Javed Iqbal
Lahore :The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has started to probe the biggest scam of dubious arms licences in the DC office Lahore.
Not only licenses were approved on the forged and fake documents but also many times more than the fixed quota, sources in the NAB disclosed.
Some officials of the arms licences branch of the DC office including Iqbal Hussain Shah, Waqar Ali, Rizwan Shah, Safdar Ahmad and Sohail Aslam have allegedly been found involved in the scam. The NAB office sought full details of these officials.
The sources in the DC office confirmed this newspaper that this malpractice had been going on for years.
The affected citizens had also pointed out the same on the Prime Minister’s portal.
Moreover, the home department had also received complaints on the issuance of arms licences from the DC office on fake documents. A good number of licences were issued on the last working day that was 31st December of 2009, it was discovered.
On this, a fact finding committee was constituted by the home department to probe into the matter of fake, forged and fabricated licences issued from the DC office.
On the recommendations of the fact finding committee the matter was referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The fact finding committee in its report (number one) has observed that hundreds of arms licences issued from the Lahore DC office involved millions of rupees while defrauding the government exchequer by causing loss of taxes to be paid in different shapes.
This act of the criminals also defrauded the public at large.
Home department also observed that the aforementioned scam exists in all the districts of Punjab.
All the DCs have been directed to initiate internal inquiries and take custody of the record of the fake arm licence.
The deadline given to the DCs to complete the process is 30 of May 2019.
As per details, during 2008 and 2009 the arms licence issuance quota was 125 per month and 1500 per year.
But interestingly during 2009 30,000 record licenses were approved by the DC office. Later in 2012, fees was increased to Rs 5000 per license while during 2014 the quota of issuance of the arms licences in Lahore augmented to 250 per month. The arms branch could approve 3,000 licences annually but it issued 10500 licences.
The dealer mafia is said to be so strong that no proper audit could be conducted of this branch.
Though internal inquiries were held but later shelved by those involved in this case.
This is for the first time that the home department took action and referred the matter to the national accountability bureau.
One of the former Lahore Deputy Commissioners told this newspaper that one reason of this big blunder was the computerisation of the manual armed licences in collaboration with NADRA.
The officers could exercise a single option to approve the cases in back dates and they did against bribery.
He also told that some officials involved in this scam have left office. They have earned enough and need no more job.
Sources also told that the DC office Arms Licenses Branch had neither submitted the complete amount collected in terms of fees in the post office nor maintained the record. He said that in some cases the proper addresses were not mentioned on the documents. When the fact finding committee approached the post office it was revealed that the money was not deposited against the licences issued.
The sources further told that the home department also wrote to the Commissioner Office Dr Mujtaba Piracha to probe the matter and punish those involved on administrative grounds.
They further informed that the Commissioner has also initiated and enquiry.
The Lahore DC was not available for comments till filing of this report. However a senior officer said
the Additional Chief Secretary Home department Syed Ali Murtza has issued strict instructions to monitor the malpractices in all the projects it had been overseeing. He said that the issuance of dubious arms licenses was a serious matter when the country was facing terrorism threats.