Smart Crony, Left Alone to Face the Media, Gets Knocked Out
YORK, September 18: Dr Nasim Ashraf, General Musharraf's Minister
of State and the innovative creator of a multi-million dollar
scam in the name of Human Development in Pakistan, defended his
project at a Press conference at the Press Center of Hotel Roosevelt
on Sept 15, after South Asia Tribune had exposed his
scam, but the tables were turned when he failed to answer probing
questions from journalists.
Ashraf’s story on the twin scandal of Human Development
Commission and Human Development Fund, released by SAT
two day earlier, was the main subject of discussion in the camp
of General Musharraf, who was also staying at the Roosevelt along
with his small “official” entourage but a large number
of officials their wives, cronies, journalists and Pakistani diplomats,
but none came to his help as he was practically told to fend for
himself. Click to read original story
shaking and nervous Dr Ashraf came to the media center and spoke
about the "great job" he and his men were doing to spread
education and provide health to the poor in Pakistan but his main
focus was on how they were raising money from different quarters
in and outside Pakistan.
“We don’t have funds
to expand the project as it needs a lot of resources,” he
said. “Important and large hearted people are helping us,
yet we need more and more.”
a journalist pointed out at the Audit Report posted at the web
site of the Commission which stated that on June 30, 2004 there
was an amount of Rs 1,032,086,499 lying idle as cash in bank of
the Fund account, Dr Nasim Ashraf gave the incriminating answer
which exposed his entire game. See image of the report below:
“This is our Endowment Fund
which is to be used to sustain our program and not to be spent
on our work,” was his response, meaning that over $16 million
was to be kept separately for salaries, perks, cars, petrol, traveling,
holding Qawali events etc but not for the declared goal of setting
up schools, health centers etc.
Newsmen did not spare Dr Ashraf
as he was immediately told if this was so was he more interested
in keeping the goodies flowing and not in his mission.
Finding himself cornered, Dr Ashraf
immediately introduced another Fund member and donor, a Dr. Lodhi,
who tried to bail him out by declaring that he had full trust
in the accounts of the Fund and he himself had donated thousands
of dollars into it.
the key question as to why Dr. Ashraf was reluctant to allow the
Auditor General of Pakistan to carry out an audit of his accounts
was answered by him in the following words: “The Pakistan
audit system is so slow and corrupt if we allow them, we will
never be able to do anything. We do not want to get into the red
tape. We have the world’s best auditors to check our accounts
and senior bureaucrats sit in our meetings to monitor the accounts.”
important member of the Pakistan delegation said General Musharraf
was stuck in a difficult situation as the Ashraf scandal could
blow up intohis face if he allowed an independent audit and because
Musharraf himself has been participating in fund raisers and "telethons"
it would become an huge embarrassment if it was found that the
whole thing was a scam. "The foreign donors and corporations
like Microsoft will dump the Pakistanis instantly."
important question about promises made by Dr Nasim Ashraf to General
Musharraf that he would raise Rs 4 billion from “other donors”
if the Government of Pakistan granted Rs 2 billion, which it did,
went unanswered as Dr Ashraf stopped a South Asia Tribune
journalist from asking any more questions.
key official of General Musharraf’s delegation, who was
a frequent visitor to the media center, publicly admitted before
journalists that no member of the Musharraf entourage was willing
to come and defend Dr Ashraf before the media and “he has
been told to go and face the music himself.”
sources of the Pakistan delegation revealed to the South Asia
Tribune that Dr Nasim Ashraf had approached the then Principal
Secretary of General Musharraf, his friend and aide Tariq Aziz,
to issue an Executive Order exempting his Fund from official audit
by the Auditor General of Pakistan.
“Tariq Aziz refused to do
that as he argued that if his Fund and accounts were transparent,
he should not be scared of the audit and should willingly submit
to it to establish his credibility,” the source said. When
he failed to get that order through Aziz, Dr. Ashraf then used
the then ISI chief, General Ehsan, who also belongs to the Pashtun
clan of NWFP, to get his Fund exempted.
When a journalist asked him at
his news conference why he was using names of international figures
like Princess Sarwath of Jordan, Jemima Khan, ex-PM Moeen Qureshi
to establish that these personalities were keeping an eye on his
accounts, Dr Ashraf denied that this was so.
journalist pointed out at his own web site which claimed under
the Sub-Title of “Transparency and Accountability”
he had used the names of all these important personalities to
convey the impression that they were acting as watchdogs.
Ashraf blatantly denied that this was so and challenged the journalist
to prove and show him where he had done that. The journalist insisted
that his own web site had that information. The relevant portion
of that web site is reproduced here in the following image which
proves that Dr Ashraf was trying to mislead the media even at
his news conference.
overall result of his news conference was that all the journalists
found his responses so unconvincing that no one filed a story
in any major newspaper. A senior journalist remarked: “He
answered no question and left the charges against him hanging
in the air.”