ISI spent Rs 4.1bn on project that never took off: Report

Pakistan's ISI has come under criticism from a powerful Parliamentary panel for having spent over Rs 4 billion on a fingerprint and police records project that never materialised.

Members of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament criticised the spy agency for the spending on the project during a meeting held yesterday, the Dawn newspaper reported today.

The panel was informed that the National Police Bureau (NPB) had handed over Rs 2.1 billion to the ISI during 2005-06 for setting up an automated fingerprint identification system and a police record and office management system.

Funding for the project, which also involved the setting up of a national integrated trunk radio system for police forces, was subsequently increased to Rs 4.1 billion.

According to an audit report presented to the Public Accounts Committee, the project was to be completed during 2005-06 though no progress was reported even in 2006-07.

NPB Director General Aleena Saeed Iqbal said she had repeatedly sought information from the ISI about the status of the project and details of accounts but there was no response.

She said she had no information about the project though the entire amount spent on it had been transferred through the NPB.

"The only thing I can do is to ask them about the project, which I am doing on regular basis," Iqbal told the lawmakers.

According to documents presented at the meeting, the NPB had released Rs 4.1 billion to the ISI for the project by November last year.

The Parliamentary panels intervention was sought as the ISI had neither reported any progress on the project nor provided any adjustments of accounts.

The development comes days after the ISI was at the centre of another controversy over its meddling in politics following the Supreme Court's verdict holding two retired Generals, including former ISI chief Asad Durrani, responsible for distributing millions of rupees among politicians to rig the 1990 general election.

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