Secret Pakistan counter-terror fund was used to buy wedding gifts and carpets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 6:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 5:07pm

Pakistani officials used a secret counter-terrorism fund to buy wedding gifts, luxury carpets and gold jewellery for relatives of ministers and visiting dignitaries, leaked documents reveal.

The revelations cast a spotlight on high-level corruption in Pakistan as the impoverished but nuclear-armed country battles a surge in Taliban violence.

They concern the National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of Pakistan's interior ministry, formed in 2000 to co-ordinate between the country's intelligence agencies and federal and provincial governments on national security matters.

The NCMC received about 425 million rupees (HK$53.4 million) from Pakistani government coffers between 2009 and last year, according to files obtained by Umar Cheema, a journalist for Pakistani daily The News.

During that time the interior ministry was headed by Rehman Malik, a supporter of former president Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Many of the documents deal with payments to intelligence sources, routine maintenance of vehicles and overtime for employees. But they also include receipts for gifts for US and British embassy officials, as well as flowers and sweets for journalists.

One receipt for 70,000 rupees is itemised as: "Pair of wristwatches for marriage of nephew of minister for interior".

The documents show that on a trip to Rome for an Interpol conference in November 2012, Malik took a necklace, wooden tables and a TouchMate tablet computer as gifts.

The counter-terror fund was also used to buy three rugs as wedding gifts for the son of former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf early last year.

A set of 21-carat gold jewellery worth US$3,000 was bought for one unnamed individual, while another was the recipient of a US$1,500 set.

Among the more bizarre items paid for from the fund was the US$800 cost of four sacrificial goats, plus butchery costs for the festival of Eid-ul-Adha.

Pakistan's present government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has ordered an audit of the interior ministry accounts from 2010 to last year. Ministry spokesman Danyal Gilani confirmed the audit was continuing.