Only £2 Million Raised Of The Pledged £13 million At Saqib Nisar’s UK Dam Funding
Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar managed to raise only £2 million of the total £13 million pledged for the construction of two dams.
Former SC chief justice Saqib Nisar exhorted British Pakistanis to help build two dams through crowd funding in November 2018. He also promised that they would soon get updates about the amount raised. However, a year later, there’s no update and it appears that the funds raised were actually far lower than the pledged amount.
The single biggest donation was nearly £1 million, which came from the Bestway group, which was struggling at the time to get its cement factory issues resolved that had been the subject of the former CJ’s suo motu notice and the remaining £1 million came from all others put together.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) UK leader Aneel Musarrat had hosted the former chief justice during the whirlwind tour – Chief Justice and PM Dam Appeal 2018 – billed as the biggest fundraising effort ever.
An investigation by The News established that all donors, event organisers and fundraisers made tall and unrealistic claims and the actual money deposited into the account was not only a small fraction of what was pledged but the whole process was plagued with lack of transparency and the claims made by the organisers were only geared to get media publicity.
A group called the Centre for Policy Dimension held the first fund raising event on 22nd November at a West London restaurant. The retired chief justice was the chief guest. At the event, £5.4 million were pledged. Thirteen months later, the organisers told this reporter that only about £33,000 was raised through selling tickets and £5000 donated by Allied Law Solicitors was deposited in the dam fund account set up by Pakistan High Commission in UBL’s London branch.
The remaining £5.4 million still remains to be deposited. The organisers said that a businessman pledged to deposit £5 million through multiple deposits last year, but not a penny has been deposited till now. One donor promised to donate his two houses, but no progress has been made on that.
PTI leader Aneel Musarrat held the mega fundraiser on 23rd November in Manchester where the Justice Saqib Nisar was the chief guest. It was announced at the event that £2.3 million have been raised but Aneel Musarrat, responding to questions, said that funds were ‘still coming in’ and that ‘30% of the amount collected’ had been sent to Pakistan. According to his claim, the total amount raised was around £690,000. He added that collections were ‘slow’ because ‘some people were paying over 5 years’.
Moreover, the UK Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (UKPCCI) hosted a fundraising event on Park Lane where it was announced that £1.5 million had been raised. PTI leader and the UKPCCI’s Secretary General Waheed-ur-Rehman Miah said that an estimated £300k have been deposited into Adam Fund Account, set up by the High Commission.
He said, “We had pledges spread over 3 years and donors are paying by direct debits to the designated account.” However, he didn’t explain which charity was taking the money. A source in UKPCCI confirmed that no money was sent into the dam fund and the pledges made by the donors and the UKPCCI officials were just promises and nothing more.
The World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) organised a fundraiser in Central London. WCOP Chairman Naheed Randhawa told The News that the total pledged amount was £1,170,701, but the WCOP didn’t receive any cheques in personal names and all cheques were deposited directly in the dam’s fund. He said that the WCOP banked cheque of £92,701 and the guests banked £178,000 directly into the account.
Of the total amount, the biggest cheque of £600,000 came from the Bestway Group. At the same event, the former CJP apologised to the Bestway Group for his suo motu notice regarding the Bestway group’s cement plant near Rawalpindi. The Bestway Group had complained that it was being targeted for malicious reasons and the former CJP apologised publicly.
The former CJP had said, “I apologise to the Bestway Group who were unfortunate victims of my judicial activism. You have been very gracious and I am thankful for that. We set a deadline of November 6 and you assured me that you will modernise your plants and not take water from the tube wells.”
Dozens of other pledges were made at the event but there has been no progress after the retirement of former chief justice of Pakistan.
At one of the Park Lane hotels, where the former CJP stayed, at least two groups met him posing for pictures and displaying poster-size cheques. Both groups confirmed that they didn’t deposit any money once the pictures were made and advertised on media. There was no one to follow up with these organisations.
On the way back from Midlands to London, the CJP attended an event by a group of doctors called the Association of Pakistani Physicians and Surgeons of the United Kingdom (APPSUK). Pledges of money for the dam construction were made at the event but no money was given. A spokesman of the APPSUK said it independently ran medical services in Pakistan but confirmed that no donations were given for the dam fund. “Our event didn’t raise funds. It was only a reception to raise awareness.”
The spokesman didn’t deny that doctors pledged to donate money through the dedicated bank account.
In Birmingham, boxer Amir Khan’s Amir Khan Foundation teamed up with a group of community leaders to organize a fundraiser where pledges of more than £3 million were made but Amir Khan has denied having anything to do with the money raised.
His spokesman said, “As far as I can recollect, Amir was invited personally to be a chief guest by CJP at the event, with the foundation as a supporting partner. All the money raised and collected on the night was done so by the chief justice’s dam collection.”
Councillor Rana Shaukat, the main organiser, confirmed that around £200,000 was raised at the event, including a cheque of £100,000 from Jamat-e-Islami’s UK Islamic Mission (UKIM). He said, “We provided details of dam fund to those in attendance and they promised to make direct contributions. Akram Halal Meat promised to give £100000 but we have no idea if that money was deposited.”
A source in Pakistan High Commission said the organisers of all events failed to meet their commitments, which had been made publicly. On record, the High Commission spokesman said it had nothing to do with the fundraisers and that the bank account was set up on direction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The spokesman said it was not responsible for the actions of anyone.