On Thursday, President Arif Alvi named Ahad Cheema, a veteran civil servant and senior bureaucrat, as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s establishment adviser.
Cheema’s arrest was the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) first high-profile arrest in Punjab before the 2018 general elections. When he came before the bureau’s investigation team in an inquiry into the Ashiana-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme on February 21, 2018, he was arrested.
Later, the NAB launched an investigation into the LDA City scam and his riches beyond his means. In April of last year, he was granted bail in all three cases.
“In exercise of the power conferred by clause (1) of Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the president has been pleased to appoint Ahad Khan Cheema, as Adviser to the Prime Minister on Establishment, with the status of federal minister, with immediate effect,” according to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.
The news comes just days after Cheema resigned from the civil service, expressing his disdain for his employer, the Pakistani government, for standing by and watching as he was dragged into a “politically motivated campaign spearheaded by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ahead of the 2018 general election and his ordeal all along.”
The newly-appointed minister has been imprisoned for 38 months (from February 2018 to April 2021) while facing multiple NAB investigations.
The resignation/retirement from service was accepted by the Prime Minister’s Office on June 4th.
Cheema had been placed on important projects with new standards of speed, quality, and efficiency during his tenure as Punjab chief minister, according to sources, and the premier had tried to persuade him to stay on in a senior and important position, but he had declined all offers due to the mistreatment he had received.
Cheema joined the Pakistan Administrative Service (formerly known as the DMG) in 2001 and served under the chief ministerships of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and Shehbaz Sharif, proving his mettle by completing numerous public-interest projects on time. As Director-General of the Lahore Development Authority, he oversaw the Bhikki coal-fired power plant and several other projects in Lahore.
He has also worked as the deputy commissioner of Lahore and the secretary of the higher education department.
Cheema had previously told Dawn that he had resigned from the civil service but not from public life, and that he was looking forward to continuing to serve the country.