While addressing a large gathering at Adda Plot near the Sharifs’ residence in Jati Umra on the 30th of September, 2016, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman, Imran Khan, said that Rs 8 billion had been spent on personal security of the Sharifs, while Rs 600 million was used to construct the walls of the ‘Raiwind Palace’, personal residence of the ruling family.
When Nawaz Sharif resumed office in 2013, the country was battling terrorism and attacks took place in various parts of the country. The top leadership was believed to be a vulnerable target for the terrorists. In order to ensure security at the Prime Minister’s personal residence, Jati Umra, the Punjab government released Rs 61.5 million in 2014 and another Rs 364.4 million in 2015 for the purchase of vehicles and to pay for extra security personnel around the personal residence. These are additional expenses along with the funds already allocated in the annual budget for the security of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif; and their families.
In 2015, the Government of Punjab released Rs 283.2 million for a 4.4 kilometre long fence around the personal residence. As per the documents of the government, intelligence agencies and the Punjab Communication & Works Department, a secret audit was held in the wake of threats to the Sharif family in 2015. The survey results concluded that their security was unsatisfactory; terrorists could take advantage of the flaws.
To confirm Imran Khan’s statement, Truth Tracker contacted the opposition leader in Punjab Assembly, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, to inquire about the source of this information.
He confirmed that the Punjab government had allocated Rs 364.4 million for the construction of a security wall in 2015, which was taken from the public treasury. “But its actual cost was not less than Rs600 million,” he added.
Rasheed told Truth Tracker that he raised this issue on the floor of the house on November 12th, 2015. On a point of order during the government business, he brought up the issue related to the construction of a boundary wall around Sharif’s personal residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.
Rasheed questioned why the Punjab government had allocated Rs 62 million in 2014 for and an additional amount of Rs 364.4 million for the construction of a security wall.
He said, “If you calculate the salaries, cost of government vehicles and their maintenance, salaries of the staff, all of it adds up to Rs 8 Billion.”
Due to the sensitivity of the issue, no senior police official at the Central Police Office or any other bureaucrat working at Chief Minister’s Secretariat was willing for comment on record with Truth Tracker for fear of losing their job or being transferred.
“Up to 2,800 police officials have been engaged for the security of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, CM Shahbaz Sharif and their families,” said a senior police officer working at CPO, who wishes to remain anonymous.
He said that these 2,800 police personnel include 2,136 police officials working under Capital City Police Officer in Lahore, 169 officials of Punjab Constabulary, 44 from Rawalpindi police, nine from Bhakkar, 62 from traffic police, 33 VVIP security officials of special branch, 88 of special branch and 75 private security officials.
They are performing the duties for security of chief coordinator of security, chief minister squad Islamabad, Rawalpindi, CM Office GOR-1, Banquet Hall, 90 Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, Lahore, CM residence, 96-H, Model Town, Lahore, CM residence, DHA, Lahore, PM residence, Jati Umrah, Raiwind, Lahore, Hamza Shahbaz, Mrs Nusrat Shahbaz, Salman Shahbaz and family, Mian Imran Ali Yousaf, Begum Tehmina Shahbaz, 51-A, Judicial Colony, Lahore and Punjab House, CM Secretariat GOR-1, 108-H, Model Town and Jati Umrah.
He further said that a large fleet of elite police vehicles and other security vehicles were also being employed by the Sharif family.
“According to the security protocol, only the prime minister and chief minister are entitled to police protocol while moving about, which includes Elite Police Force Vehicles and commandos to escort them. But presently, their children are misusing their parent’s power and bending the law by moving around with police protocol which is illegal,” he said.
He further revealed that 90 CCTV cameras and 100 LED lights were installed along with 20 elevated checkpoints around Sharifs’ personal residence, which were made operational in 2015. A colloidal amount of Rs197.2 million was spent for setting up fences and checkpoints.
A senior bureaucrat working at Punjab Civil Secretariat validated these figures. He added that even government vehicles are being used by the officials deployed with the Sharif family for their personal use “These officials and drivers are using luxurious cars like Toyota Vigo, Corolla and BMW for personal use,” he added.
Talking to Truth Tracker, Punjab Government’s Spokesman Zaeem Qadri said that Imran Khan is a liar, and he needs to provide documented evidence before making such allegations. “Hamza Shahbaz, Maryam Nawaz, Salman Shahbaz and other family members of Sharif family are not using police protocol, police officials or commandos and government vehicles,” he countered.
He said, “Families of the PM and CM use personal security guards and pay them from their own pockets.”
Qadri said that only the prime minister and chief minister are using police officials and vehicles as they are entitled to such privileges.
When questioned regarding the cost incurred in the construction of the outer boundary wall, he said that he does not have exact figures.
Defence and political analyst, General (Retd) Ghulam Mustafa told Truth Tracker that a significant chunk of money has been spent on the security of the Sharifs, and those close to them. An exact figure cannot be determined because the available information has been gathered from different sources.
“A lot of money has been spent on securing security officials and their personal residences in Murree and Raiwind, which have been declared ‘camp offices,” said Mustafa.
“He (Nawaz) could have paid for the security and upkeep of his own houses, saving the taxpayers money and employing it for the security of the common people who are easy targets of terrorists,” he added.
However, leading political economist from Lahore University of Management and Sciences Mobeen Chughtai said that the major problem with this Imran-Sharif equation is that both parties consider this a game of pure posturing. PML-N levels allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital while Khan waves the Panama Leaks documents in everyone’s face, Chughtai said.
Without a thorough and impartial investigation, both sets of allegations amount up to unsubstantiated rumors, Chughtai said.
“There are numerous reports within the Pakistani media that the Sharifs have spent millions of rupees from the public kitty on reinforcing the security of their Raiwind residence – an act that simply has no basis in law. But this information is inadmissible in court till it is verified by an investigating body,” said Chughtai.
Truth Tracker believes its sources are credible, and if supported by documents it would make the claim fully true – but without documents, we can only give it a neutral rating which is that Khan’s statement is half true.