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Cabinet decides to recover billions of rupees 'illegally spent' by ex-PMs, CMs: minister

Cabinet decides to recover billions of rupees 'illegally spent' by ex-PMs, CMs: minister

Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed on Tuesday said the federal cabinet has decided to recover billions of rupees allegedly spent illegally by a former president, prime ministers and chief ministers from the national exchequer.

"The law will take its course if the misused public money is not surrendered by the accused," he said while addressing a press briefing after the cabinet meeting alongside Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.

The minister alleged that former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had set up five camp houses in Multan and Lahore despite having his own residences in the cities and all the expenses incurred there were footed from the national exchequer.

Similarly, former president Asif Ali Zardari had three camp offices whereas former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and ex-Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif maintained five camp offices excluding Prime Minister House and Chief Minister House, the minister said.

Saeed claimed that Shehbaz had even declared Nawaz's Jati Umra residence in Raiwind as his camp office after the latter's disqualification by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case.

He said a squad of some 790 to 1,722 police personnel was deputed at any given time for Zardari's security, which had cost around Rs163.71 billion to the national kitty.

Nawaz spent about Rs270 million on the fencing of his private Jati Umra residence and a contingent of 2,753 policemen was deputed for its security, the minister said. Moreover, separate police squads were deployed for the security of the Sharif brothers' children and their spouses.

The minister claimed that Nawaz's trip to London for his medical check-up had cost Rs340 million as the special aircraft had to make two trips to bring him back to Pakistan. In the first trip, the airplane waited for two days at a London airport and then returned to the country without the former prime minister, Saeed added.

He alleged that Shehbaz had used his elder brother's plane a total of 556 times and purchased luxury items worth Rs8.73 billion during his foreign tours.

According to Saeed, the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs3.16 billion because of Zardari's "lavish shopping" abroad.

He said Nawaz as the prime minister made as many as 25 private visits to London costing Rs1.84 billion while Zardari as the president went on 69 private tours to different destinations abroad costing the country Rs1.42 billion.

Shehbaz soon after assuming charge as the Punjab chief minister bought a new helicopter of his own choice for Rs1.3 billion "as the old one was probably uncomfortable for him", the minister claimed.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was living in his private residence at Bani Gala despite being the premier and even spent money from his own pocket for the construction of the road leading to his home. He also preferred using commercial flights for his foreign visits instead of a chartered plane, Saeed added.

He noted that Prime Minister Imran's visit to New York and Washington DC had cost only $68,000 in contrast to the visits of the former prime ministers, who he alleged used to spend hefty amounts on such visits.

According to the minister, the cabinet today made the decision of recovering "illegally spent taxpayers' money" from the former rulers, in addition to amending the rules for allocating special funds for camp offices.

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