Zulfi Bukhari will rejoin federal cabinet: minister

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Former special assistant to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari’s resignation has not been accepted, Federal Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan has said, further stating that he would rejoin the federal cabinet after the inquiry into the Rawalpindi Ring Road project concludes.

Speaking on DawnNewsTV show ‘Live with Adil Shahzeb’, the minister said that Bukhari had nothing to do with the scam. “He is young so he got a little emotional and offered his resignation,” he said, adding that it “had not been accepted”.

The former SAPM was also not being investigated, the federal minister informed.

“An inquiry is being conducted against government officials who changed the alignment etc. No political figure played a role in this.”

He said that once the inquiry concludes and Bukhari is cleared of all charges, he will rejoin his office, Dawn reported.

Talking about himself, Khan also said that the prime minister was “satisfied since day one” that he had nothing to do with the scam. “I have a political attachment to it as it is of national importance,” he said.

“This [project] is also a major necessity of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. An inquiry needs to be conducted so that those responsible can be held accountable,” he said, adding that it was a flagship project for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

He said that he raised this point during his meeting with the prime minister on Wednesday. “This project will soon begin with a new alignment,” he claimed, adding that it will also be completed on time.

When asked about the fact that the project was not included in the Annual Development Programme of the Punjab government, the minister said that money was allocated last year of which some was also released.

“The project is still alive at the same stage. The Punjab government had to do land acquisition and it was supposed to be completed through a public-private partnership. Only the alignment needs to be changed.”

In early June, Bukhari had said while talking to reporters at Islamabad Airport soon after returning from the United Arab Emirates that he offered himself for inquiry into the Rawalpindi Ring Road scandal.

Bukhari added he would appear before any inquiry team if summoned to prove his innocence.

“Although Prime Minister Imran Khan had advised me not to resign, I decided otherwise to clear my name,” he said, expressing hope that soon truth would be separated from falsehood and his political opponents would be disappointed.

Bukhari said previously too he had proven his innocence and would succeed this time as well.

He had flown abroad on May 28 to attend what he said was an urgent matter.

After being named in the scam, Bukhari on May 17 had resigned to clear his name. He announced his resignation on Twitter saying: “My Prime Minister has always said that if a person has been named rightly or wrongly in any inquiry, he should cease to hold any public office till his name has been cleared of charges.”

He said: “Owing to the allegations in ongoing Ring Road inquiry, I want to set this example”. He also tweeted that by resigning from his position until his name was cleared up of any allegations and the obnoxious lies.

Later, it was reported that Bukhari did not resign from his post on his own but was forced by the prime minister to tender the resignation.

After the inside story of the saga came to the surface, Imran had summoned Bukhari for an explanation but he failed to do so.

The inquiry report had identified the liaison between Bukhari and a private real estate developer.

The Prime Minister Office has ordered an inquiry into the benami properties of the developer. The inquiry was ordered against two private housing societies, the sources added.

Proprietor of 10 housing schemes will also be investigated, the reports said. They divulged the PMO has also summoned the files from the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis for further scrutiny.

Reportedly, the main suspect in the road scandal, former Rawalpindi commissioner retired Capt Muhammad Mehmood who attempted to “mislead” Prime Minister Imran also got Bukhari’s support who vouched for him.

In his meeting with Imran, Bukhari had appreciated the services of Mehmood and spoke on his behalf. He requested the PM to restore his services. But the prime minister neither bought the argument nor lent his ear to the advice.