is the entire evidence at NCHD Web site to show millions of dollars
have been spent
Engulfed in Biggest Emerging Financial Scandal of His Tenure
YORK, September 13: When General Pervez Musharraf attends the
Pakistan Human Development Fund Qawali in New York on September
15, (Price Tag: $275 per seat), he would be stamping the seal
of his approval confirming to be an active partner in what would
eventually emerge as the biggest financial scam of his tenure.
scandal involves massive wastage of almost Rs2 billion of Pakistani
taxpayers’ money handed over practically to one individual,
without any official oversight or accountability. The latest published
statistics reveal much more than they conceal, although the money
has been kept out of the searching eyes of any Government auditor.
to a signed document, Rs 1.5 billion had been doled out by the
end of June, 2004. The money is claimed to have be spent in the
name of the poor, illiterate and deprived people of Pakistan but
no one knows where it is going or has gone. What is being claimed
on documents is simply not verifiable but it is packaged in such
attractive donor jargon that it has fooled even some international
biggest loser is the Government of Pakistan which has dished out
a wholesome $32 million to a favorite of General Pervez Musharraf.
The General was tricked by this soft spoken, poker faced, crafty
Pakistani expatriate whose main reason to have come close to General
Musharraf was that he offered some legitimacy to a pariah military
dictator prior to 9/11.
any civilian politician had done half of what Musharraf has done
in this case, he would have been hanged by the Army. But since
a General has officially authorized grant of millions of dollars,
without any Government audit or accountability, no one has the
courage to challenge the scam, although every one knows what it
is,” a senior Information Ministry official now in New York
confided to the South Asia Tribune.
The scam is brewing in the National
Commission for Human Development (NHCD), a body created cleverly
under law and then smartly weaved into a privately owned Pakistan
Human Development Fund (PHDF). Unsuspecting eyes would never find
out the difference between these two identical sounding organizations
and would never know where the billions were coming from and where
they were going.
mastermind behind the whole idea is Dr Nasim Ashraf, a Pakistani
medical doctor who settled in United States and for years made
his living from his medical practice until he had enough money
to pursue his political ambitions and become active in the Pakistani
community as well as an active donor to US congressmen, thus buying
Dr. Ashraf, was a relatively unknown person until he got into
the hi-profile project of the film on Pakistan’s founder
Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which a former Pakistani High Commissioner
in UK, Dr Akbar S. Ahmed, had produced. He even persuaded some
known Pakistani-Americans to donate for the film as it was being
produced to match the Oscar winner feature film ‘Gandhi’.
‘Jinnah’ never took off and Dr Akbar Ahmed
was financially burnt in the project at the hands of Dr Nasim
Ashraf. Dr Ahmed’s wife Zeenat publicly accused Dr. Nasim
Ashraf of handing over the film in London to an Indian accountant
Mr. Singla, appointed as Receiver. She also alleged that Ashraf
brought out the film in DVD format with an addition in which he
praised General Pervez Musharraf who had nothing to do with the
film. Ashraf thus used the film as a political platform to get
closer to Musharraf.
Ashraf denied her charges but it was a fact that he got closer
and closer to Musharraf by exploiting many other well respected
names including that of former Prime Minister Moeen Qureshi, Imran
Khan’s ex-wife Jemima Khan, Princess Sarwath of Jordan and
even Abdul Sattar Edhi, the Pakistani social worker of international
When Dr Nasim Ashraf launched the Pakistan Human Development Fund,
he used all these big names and some of them even contributed
up to $100,000 each, thinking that it may be a genuine project
with some achievable honest objectives of helping the poor people
of Pakistan. Even today the web site of the Commission claims
"four persons of international repute will manage the accounts"
while in fact none of these four have either the time or the will
now to involve with the Fund any more. These four persons are
former Pakistan Prime Minister Moeen Qureshi, Imran Khan's former
wife Jemima Khan, Princess Sarwath of Jordan and Maulana Abdul
Sattar Edhi. Click to view web site
was the early period of General Musharraf when despite support
from many Pakistanis and expatriates he lacked legitimacy abroad
and was looking for help from any quarter. That was the time when
he found in Dr Nasim Ashraf an attractive ally who could lend
him some credibility in the Pakistani community in US and congressional
leadership in Washington. Dr Ashraf marketed himself well with
the Pakistani dictator looking for legitimacy.
By that time he had already conceived the Human Development Plan
and in June 2001, Musharraf appointed him as head of a Task Force
on Human Development which made its recommendations in June 2002.
The main proposal was to create the National Commission on Human
Development but all funds granted to the Commission were to go
into a privately run Fund of Dr. Ashraf called the Pakistan Human
Development Fund. It was a pre-planned set up to divert funds
into a private company set up under the 1984 Companies Ordinance.
kinds of false promises, disinformation and misinformation was
used to get the Government grant after Dr. Ashraf was appointed
Chairman of the new Commission in the rank of a Minister of State.
General Musharraf was promised that if Government handed out Rs
2 billion to the NCHD (Read PHDF), Dr Ashraf will raise Rs 4 billion
from the US and other donors.
are initially targeting a sum of Rs. 6 billion for the Fund of
which we expect that one-third each will be contributed by the
Government, the donor community and private sector philanthropists,”
General Musharraf said in his inaugural speech as President and
Chief Executive at the Pakistan Human Development Forum on June
24, 2002 at the Convention Center in Islamabad. How could the
Government just hand over Rs 2 billion to a private company was
never explained. Click
to View Text of speech
But in his inaugural speech Musharraf
did explain that: “This fund will include members from all
segments of the society, in particular, leading philanthropists
and important personalities like Mr. Abdus Sattar Edhi.”
“I want to assure you that
government will ensure that this Fund will be managed by an independent
Board of Trustees in a transparent manner and it will be audited
by a firm of international repute. The Annual Report of the Trust
Fund will be made public and the copies of the report will be
sent to donor communities as well. I shall personally be monitoring
the work of the Commission and the Fund,” the General said,
taking direct responsibility of the billions he was going to hand
over to his friend.
The explanation was also to pre-empt
any objections to such a large grant to an unknown and untested
Pakistani expatriate who just happened to have come into the good
books of an all-powerful dictator.
But while the General was promising
transparency, he had been very cleverly set up to declare that
the audit of the Fund would be carried out by a firm of international
repute. That was patently illegal and against the Pakistani laws
as any organization receiving Government funds has to be audited
by the Auditor General of Pakistan.
Nasim Ashraf never allowed the Auditor General to touch his account
books despite growing resentment in the Ministry of Finance and
Ministries of Education and Health. The resentment grew so much
last June that the Senate of Pakistan unanimously recommended
to the Lower House to get the accounts of the Commission audited
by the Auditor General, but Dr. Nasim Ashraf foiled the entire
Upper House by using General Musharraf’s powers who ordered
the young junior Finance Minister, Omar Ayub Khan, to ignore this
recommendation of the Senate.
was a moment of shame for the Senate as the Opposition and Government
both had joined hands with all the 100 Senators demanding an audit,
to be defeated by one crony of the dictator.
Pakistan's Secretary of Information, Mr. Shahid Rafi, was asked
questions at his Press conference in New York last week about
the Commission and why its accounts had not been audited by the
Auditor General of Pakistan, first he could not believe there
could be such a Department but then he realized the sensitiveness
of the issue and redirected all the questions to Dr Nasim Ashraf,
who was not present at the news conference.
basic purpose of the NCHD was declared in the hi-sounding donor
jargon to be the following:
Based on a holistic development model, NCHD aims at enlarging
the scale and scope of the efforts made by the government in ensuring
the effective provision of social services. It perceives human
development as a process of enlarging choices, building capacities
and encouraging participation of communities at the grass roots.
- To ensure this, NCHD is directed towards supporting government
line departments, civil society organizations and the local communities
in the sectors of education, basic health care and income generating
activities at the grassroots.
NCHD identifies, and consequently presents innovative and cost
effective solutions to fill implementation gaps, building the
capacities of the involved agencies and stakeholders to effectively
address the issues hampering the process. Through extensive training
programs and capacity building workshops which cater to all the
stakeholders involved in the process, NCHD helps ensure a lasting
impact. These capacity building exercises are targeted towards
Government Line departments, community based organizations and
NCHD believes in the importance of community ownership in all
its projects where decision rights are provided to all stakeholders.
This approach to poverty alleviation is multi-sectoral, therefore
at NCHD we are taking an integrated approach focusing on the needs
of people at the grassroots.
- Incubation of government and non-government delivery systems
is a novel concept in human development. It is derived from the
business world where a business incubator nurtures businesses
through the initial phases of development. The ultimate objective
is to help bridge the implementation gap between strategy and
delivery by establishing a nationwide network of Human Development
Support Units (HDSU) to operate under the aegis of the NCHD. Acting
as incubators, the HDSUs will build the capacity and competencies
of government line departments, and NGOs working in the social
sectors at the district level by imparting skills to promote communication,
coordination and knowledge sharing.
The Education Program aims to assist the government in achieving
100% primary school enrollment and will open schools in areas
where no government schools exist. The Health Program is focused
on the improvement of Health Indicators.
- The NCHD has taken the initiative to create a National Volunteer
Corps (NVC), following the UN International Year of Volunteers.
Where thousands men, women and children are being mobilized to
extend support to social sector interventions at the grassroots
in Pakistan. NCHD is developing a system to match volunteer skill
sets with the operational needs of the organization, in order
to support its programs.
- An effective Communications strategy and Social Awareness campaign
are being constantly developed to articulate the attitudes and
behaviors necessary for human development and will identify and
promote NCHD programs. It will use innovative Social Marketing
methods to generate demand for the Health and Education Programs
at the grassroots and to support global resource mobilization
to an expert in the Social Sector, all these attractive words
mean nothing in terms of realities on the ground in Pakistan.
In simple words, the Commission was duplicating the work of Education
and Health Ministries, both provincial and federal, but without
any government oversight of the billions it would receive. It
was a license to enjoy life with Government money as almost Rs750
million had been granted to the Commission to meet its expenses
for something which can never be measured against verifiable performance.
Now after over three years, the Commission and its performance
have nothing to show where the hundreds of millions of rupees
have gone, although the official reports published at the web
site of the Commission gives lots of data and statistics about
the expenses. The irony is that no one on the ground can verify
whether the stats are correct and whether anything actually exists
on the ground. Dr. Nasim Ashraf would not let Government auditors
touch his accounts or verify the claims of his web site reports.
one place the reports claims thousands of volunteers have been
raised. A picture on the web site (above) shows only three persons
as 'volunteers'. Where are these thousands is for the watchdogs
and parliamentarians to find out but no one is available as far
as knowledgeable people can see. Likewise the Commission claims
it has taught 650,000 mothers to give ORS to their kids, as if
the mothers did not know how to feed their children before.
Chief Minister of Sindh, Arbab Ghulam Rahim was recently asked
by a parliamentarian about the “great work” done by
the Commission in his province. The CM scoffed at the MNA and
said he had never heard of the Human Development Commission, far
less any work it may have done. Some of the pictures posted on
the web site are reproduced above but that is all they have.
analysis of the Financial Report of the Commission for July 2004
to June 30, 2005 reveals a lot of pork barrel expenditure. It
shows a total expenditure of Rs 757.3 million but out of this
Rs 127.6 million went to Staff Cost, Rs 62.6 million to Program
Support and Head Office Administration, Rs 45.9 million to Global
Resource Mobilization and Rs 15.8 million to Communications. Click
to View Report
another Rs 30 million went to Capital Expenditure and Rs 11.3
million for an unexplained head of “literacy in NWFP”
while another "NCHD Literacy Project" claimed Rs 55.5
are many more heads which claims similar millions but no one can
determine what they mean and whether this money ever left any
bank account. At least until June 30, 2004 more than Rs 1 billion
was parked in the private Pakistan Fund bank account, according
to the very sketchy report of the private auditors. Click
for report in PDF Format (Size: 2.5MB)
Global Resource Mobilization for which Rs 46 million were spent
included a grand gala dinner for General Pervez Musharraf in New
York in 2004 in which a stolen drama production “Anarkali”
was shown. Click
to view SAT Report
But these resource mobilization
efforts have produced hardly the figures that were promised to
General Musharraf who had himself announced that while the Government
would grant Rs 2 billion to the Fund, it would raise Rs 4 billion
from other donors.
Audit Reports and Income Statement of the Auditors shows as against
the promise of Rs 4 billion, the Fund has not been able to raise
even Rs 100 million in the last 3 years but has been living lavishly
on the tax payers’ money.
All the assurances and explanations of General Musharraf before
he gave away the billions to his crony, have now come to a point
where they are falling flat and will soon come back to haunt him.
Everyone knows that as long as
General Musharraf remains in power, Dr Nasim Ashraf and the men
and women who have benefited from this scandal will not be touched.
a very responsible Senator told the South Asia Tribune
recently he had heard the key Fund guy admit at a private sitting
saying: “Whenever Musharraf goes, I would be the first one
to leave Pakistan.”