The ghost of the 1996 cricket World Cup has returned to haunt Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari with a parliamentary panel questioning the clean chit given to a former chief of state-run PTV who was accused of squandering Rs.144 million ($1.7 million) meant for staging cultural events during the tournament.
But this is not all Zardari has to worry about. Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday also sought details about the use of secret funds for the publication of the government's two year performance report and expenditure on the website of the President House.
A committee headed by Zardari was formed for conducting culture programmes during the 1996 World Cup and a sub-committee, headed by Rana Sheikh, the then chief of the PTV, was also formed.
Zafarullah Khan, who heads the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), told the PAC on Tuesday that an inquiry had revealed that Sheikh had incurred a loss of Rs.144 million to the national exchequer by misusing her powers, Online news agency reported.
He opined that after an amendment in Pakistan's laws, the power of withdrawing cases should be taken back from the government.
The PAC, which is chaired by Nisar Ali Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, then sought explanations from the interior and information ministry.
In 1996, Zardari's only claim to fame was that he was then prime minister Benazir Bhutto's husband and was often derisively referred to as "Mr. 10 per cent" for the kickbacks he demanded on all big ticket deals.
Rana Sheikh is the wife of former Pakistani foreign secretary Najamuddin Sheikh.