Checkup of Cheema: Court allows setting up of medical board

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director Shafqat Ali Cheema

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director Shafqat Ali Cheema

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has allowed constitution of a medical board for checkup of a director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shafqat Ali Cheema.

Cheema, who is in jail over his alleged involvement in a case involving accumulating assets beyond known sources of income, had moved an application seeking the formation of a medical board for his overall check up.

IHC judges Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Athar Minallah directed the authorities to constitute the medical board comprising senior doctors and officials of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).

Meanwhile, the court also directed the investigation officer of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit a chart carrying details of income and assets of Cheema. The court remarked that no one could be held accused merely on the basis of having assets.

Cheema’s counsel Asad Manzoor Butt told the court that his client also had other sources of income including income from agricultural land and from a business of his deceased brother.

The court remarked that a government official could not be associated with a private business.

Subsequently, the court directed the NAB official to prepare a chart drawing a comparison of income and assets and submit it before the court at the next hearing.

Cheema’s counsel also said that his client had not confessed to his involvement in making assets beyond known sources of income, but since he was a heart patient, he had submitted an application to the NAB requesting to opt for a plea-bargain.

Previously, the NAB authorities said that a heavy turnover was seen, while searching bank accounts and other businesses of Cheema.

The authority had also said that Cheema had frequent private tours with his family to Europe and the United States in recent years.

Cheema was said to be the official in charge of Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal desk at the Foreign Ministry and he has also been accused of illegally sending a number of people abroad and receiving heavy amounts from them in exchange.

The case was adjourned till August 25.

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