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ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Javed Iqbal has directed the bureau’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) director general (DG) to conduct an inquiry into Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s reported use of the KP chief minister’s official helicopters.
On January 29, Geo News reported that the KP government spent millions of rupees on Imran’s use of the provincial government’s helicopters.
In a press release issued on Friday, the NAB KP DG has been directed to ascertain how the CM handed over his official helicopter to someone else and find out if the same was repeated with other individuals.
Moreover, the DG has been tasked to determine if the CM misused his authority. The press release states that NAB has started the inquiry so that official helicopters are not misused in the future. Documents obtained by Geo News from the KP administration department showed that the PTI chairperson used the KP government’s helicopters free of charge for a total of 74 hours to travel approximately 18,000 kilometres.
The provincial government recorded in its books a total expense of Rs2.1 million at approximately Rs28,865 per hour for Khan’s 40 trips on the two helicopters — an Mi-17 and an Ecureuil.
Similar trips using a private helicopter would have cost the PTI chairperson tens of millions of rupees, according to estimates.
Khan used the Mi-17 for 21 hours 50 minutes on 12 trips amounting to a recorded expense of Rs1,270,307.
Similarly, he used the Ecureuil helicopter 28 times for a total of 52 hours and 5 minutes, amounting to a recorded expense of Rs836,875.
Combined, Khan used both helicopters for a total of 73 hours and 55 minutes, resulting in an expense of Rs2,107,181 recorded by the provincial government.
The PTI chief, whose party governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, used the helicopters to fly to and from Bani Gala, Islamabad, Mardan, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Haripur, Swat and Nathiagali, Kohat, Batagram, and Chakdara, among other places.
In its documents, the administration department mentioned the purpose of the flights as “official use and urgent nature of work”.
Speaking to Geo News, KP chief minister’s principal adviser on aviation, Mohammad Amin, said Imran must have accompanied the chief minister on these trips.
However, when asked, Amin estimated that use of the helicopters costs between Rs150,000 and Rs200,000 per hour—far greater than the Rs28,865 average hourly rate at which expenses were recorded in the provincial administration’s books.
Similarly, in a statement, KP Minister for Information Shah Farman said that Khan never travelled in government helicopters alone.
“Imran used the helicopter in the interest of the people and on request of the provincial government, along with the chief minister and other ministers,” Farman said in a statement, labelling the report as “propaganda.”
A senior KP government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, had claimed that Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak is the chief executive of the province and holds the discretion of allowing any individual to use the provincial government’s helicopters.