LAHORE: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has launched an investigation against government officials involved in the alleged misappropriation of Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) funds and called for 16 suspected officers to record statements in this regard.
The FIA Special Team, headed by Punjab Zone One Director Mohammad Rizwan, was given the responsibility of investigating the role of government officials in the Benazir Income Support Program funds between 2010 and 2018.
One official said the FIA summoned 16 officers from BS-17 to BS-20 on charges of misappropriating funds for the Benazir Income Support Program.
"The accounts, assets and foreign accounts of these officers, as well as their spouse's accounts and assets, will also be investigated," he said.
The officers were called next week to record statements, the official said.
In the light of its investigation, the FIA will begin proceedings against officers of BS-17 and higher ranks, which will be completed in the next few months.
Earlier, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had fraudulently forwarded cases of more than 2,000 government employees benefiting from BISP funds.
The Prime Minister's Assistant Special Accountability Secretary Shahzad Akbar had said that the government had also written to all the Chief Secretaries and Establishment Division for departmental action and recovery of funds against government officers benefiting the BISP.
The FIA will file lawsuits against government officials and those who assist them.
Government analysis revealed that there were more than 140,000 people who were themselves or their spouses in government beneficiaries of the Benazir Income Support Program.
The bulk of the 140,000 illegally benefited 40,000 were government employees in grades one to 16, while the other 2037 were officers from grades 17 through 22.
Shahzad Akbar had said, "This system and its laws are lacking in transparency that for years there has been fraud and officers continue to receive money".
He said that the number of Grade 17 and above government officials benefiting from BICSP or their spouse benefited from the fraud, 9 in Azad Kashmir, 40 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 554 in Balochistan. 342 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 101 in Punjab and 938 in Sindh.
In addition, 39 employees of grade one to 16 who worked for and benefited from BISP, while four officers of grade 17 and above were fired, as well as dismissed 48 employees of the federal government.
According to data released in 2016, the Benazir Income Support Program was launched in July 2008, which is the largest social security network in Pakistan, benefiting 54 million people.