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As CPEC Authority Chairman, Asim Bajwa Enjoys Immunity From Legal Proceedings

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Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa, who is facing graft allegations over massive accumulation in his family assets, enjoys immunity from all sorts of legal proceedings as the head of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA) that was established in 2019 through an ordinance.

Following the allegations of corruption, Gen Bajwa quit his job as the special assistant to the prime minister on information on Thursday; however, he decided to retain his post as the chairperson of the CPEC Authority. And as a CPECA chief, he enjoys immunity from legal proceedings.

According to the CPEC Authority Ordinance 2019: “Except as expressly provided in this ordinance, no suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the authority, the chairperson, chief executive officer, executive director, any member, officer, member of staff, other employees, expert, consultant or advisor of the authority in respect of anything done or intended to be done in good faith under this ordinance, rules or regulations.”

The CPEC Authority was established through an ordinance in October before the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing. The purpose of this authority was to boost the CPEC projects, facing delays due to multiple hiccups. Subsequently, Gen Bajwa was appointed as chairman of the CPECA, which comes under the planning and development ministry.

“The new chairperson will get MP-I scale for a period of four years from the date of assuming the charge of the office with immediate effect and until further orders,” notification of his posting stated.

Probe Into Allegations Demanded:

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) demanded the authorities probe the corruption charges against Bajwa.

During a court hearing earlier this week, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said Asim Saleem Bajwa should provide a money trail following corruption allegations against him. The PML-N leader had said after the graft allegations against the former military spokesperson, an explanation was necessary.

She had said Gen Asim Bajwa should respond to the allegations of accumulating massive wealth during his tenure as the top military officer.

Farhatullah Babar, a senior leader of the PPP, had said that a story about the prime minister’s special assistant was recently published on a website but the accountability watchdog remained silent. “They (allegations) are so serious that they cannot be ignored,” Babar said. “I demand that a high-level inquiry is conducted over the story.”

Backstory:

In a news report published on FactFocus, Investigate Journalist Ahmad Noorani accused Gen Asim Bajwa of accumulating disproportionate assets by using his influence as an army general.

Noorani revealed that the growth of the ‘Bajwa family’s business empire in the United States and later in Pakistan directly matches the rise in power of retired general Asim Saleem Bajwa’.

The report claimed, “The Bajwa family’s companies spent an estimated $52.2 million to develop their businesses and $14.5 million to purchase properties in the United States, while Asim Bajwa and his department were encouraging Pakistanis to invest within their relatively undeveloped country. The businesses of the Bajwa family through different companies were named as Bajco Group.”

Bajwa rejected the allegations as a part of ‘malicious propaganda’.

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Naya Daur