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Pakistan: SECP official Sajid Gondal returns after being missing for five days, questions were raised on CPEC chairperson Lt Gen (Rt) Bajwa

Any details of the circumstances of his return have not been made public yet. His disappearance was linked to the probe in corruption allegations against Lieutenant General (Retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairperson, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Joint Director of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Sajid Gondal, has resurfaced on 8th September. He was missing for five days. He posted on his twitter handle that he is back and safe and thanked everyone who was worried about him.

Any details of the circumstances of his return have not been made public yet. His disappearance was linked to the probe in corruption allegations against Lieutenant General (Retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairperson, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He is a close aide of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.

As per the reports, Gondal’s vehicle was found abandoned in front of the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Chak Shahzad. His family filed a complaint with the police after he did not contact them or came back home. After the information of his disappearance was made public, #BringBackSajidGondal trended on Twitter in Pakistan.

After his disappearance, voices were raised not only by the ministers in power but also by Islamabad High Court judge over the police’s failure to trace him. In a statement, information Minister Shibli Faraz had condemned the incident and said the country seems to be no longer safe. He said, being a minister, he used to feel safe while driving alone at night, which is no longer the case.

While hearing a petition filed by Gondal’s mother, Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Islamabad High Court (IHC) said that Gondal’s disappearance is only the tip of the iceberg. The court issued a direction on 5th September to respondents, including the interior secretary, chief commissioner, and Inspector General of Police, Islamabad Capital Territory, to appear in front of the court in person to file an answer on the failure of security agencies to trace Gondal.

Allegations against Bajwa

Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa had to resign after allegations were raised against him to help his family members set up off-shore businesses in several locations. He had served as a Commander of the Southern Command and Pakistan Army Spokesperson before retiring. He denied all the allegations against him and submitted his resignation from his post of special assistant to the PM on information and broadcasting. However, he kept serving as the chairperson of CPEC. In his tweet on 3rd September, he denied all the charges and said, “I have and will always serve Pakistan with pride and dignity.”

On 4th September, senator Faisal Javed Khan, a close aide of PM Imran Khan, tweeted and informed that PM Khan had decided not to accept Bajwa’s resignation from SAPM and asked him to continue working.

Bajwa’s resignation came after Fact Focus reported on 27th August that his younger brothers opened Papa John’s pizza restaurants in 2002 when he started working as a Lieutenant Colonel on the General Pervez Musharraf’s staff. The report suggested that his brothers Nadeem and the other three, along with his wife and three sons, own a business empire with around 99 companies set up in four countries. Journalist Ahmad Noorani, who wrote the Fact Focus report, has alleged that he is receiving threats to his life publishing the said report.

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