NAB shouldn’t become a Crony of PPP and PTI: Shehbaz Sharif

Lahore, January 22, 2018 (PPI-OT):Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has said that NAB issued notice to him to appear before it with regard to Aashiyana Housing Scheme. Though this notice was mala-fide but despite that, I decided to appear before it as I strongly believe in the rule of law. There are court verdicts that NAB queries can also be replied in black and white and I too have taken benefit of this legal facility but I did not deem it proper and replied to the questions of the NAB team in the NAB office for more than one hour and most respectfully cleared the real situation. He made it clear that if the corruption of even a single penny is proved against him in Aashiyana Scheme or in any other project, then he is ready to face the consequences but this serious joke should not come about and the process of politics and retribution should be stopped in the name of accountability.

If anybody is of the view that I shall stop serving the masses by fearing such serious jokes and threats then it would be their miscalculation. I, my political colleagues as well as the team shall not be afraid of as I can sacrifice my life but cannot give in. Strict and indiscriminate accountability is accepted to us but any vengeance, politics and jokes are intolerable in the name of accountability. I shall straight go home if corruption of even a single penny is proved against me. But on the other side, it is intolerable if the persons who have looted billions and trillions of rupees of the nation are not questioned and I am made a scapegoat on the basis of fudge data. NAB notices are issued to me and I am insulted by repeatedly showing NAB notice at TV screens.

If it is a crime to serve the people and save billions of rupees of the poor nation, then I will repeat it thousands of time. He expressed these views while addressing a crowded press conference at Model Town, here today. He said that first question of NAB team was regarding my order given to Punjab Land Development Company that I have violated rules and regulations. I replied that under Punjab government rules of business, the Chief Minister is authorized to summon the record of any matter/ case pertaining to the Punjab government and can issue order / direction about it as well.

Punjab Land Development Company is hundred percent owned by the Punjab government and therefore, it is the responsibility of the Punjab government to monitor its work and performance. Meanwhile, under memorandum of association of the company act and corporate governance rules 2013, the companies’ boards are duty-bound to follow the directions / policy given to them time to time by the government. The review of performance of the company is not illegal, in any way, by the Punjab high officials. Punjab government provides financial resources to all the public sector companies from its kitty and board of directors and CEOs of the companies are also appointed by the government.

Keeping this thing in view, the government has the complete authority to ask these companies about their performance. We have set up Punjab Land Development Company to introduce low-income housing schemes so that the poor and the hapless strata could be given a house of their own. He said that Ch. Latif and Sons Company was given infrastructure contract i.e., roads construction in Aashiyana-e-Iqbal and after coming to know about the delay, I directed to dispose of the matter on merit ensuring transparency and expediency.

We have had started Aashiyana Housing Scheme for hapless and low-income families and contract was signed for constructing 1700 housing at the outset. Bidders gave the rates of 1700, 1600 and 1000 rupees per square feet. We fixed the rate of 900 rupees per square feet after negotiating with the lowest bidder. I asked the NAB officials that what is your viewpoint about 1.5 billion rupees’ saving made through this way? I say it again and again that if it is a crime to save nation’s money and stop corruption, then I will do it repeatedly and shall bring to an end the menace of corruption. They had no reply of this response, he added.

He said that a relative of secretary to Musharraf was given 80 percent shares of precious natural resources of Chiniot without any tendering process in 2007 when Pervaiz Elahi and Pervaiz Musharraf were in the power. The assessment of initial income was around Rs. 450 billion. The incumbent Chief Justice of High Court Mr. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah wrote, while cancelling the agreement in the case-verdict, that NAB should hold a detailed investigations but the NAB gave a clean chit to Arshad Waheed instead of holding inquiry of the case and cancelled the agreement, although the corruption inquiry cannot be stopped after cancellation of the agreement but NAB put this case in the cold storage. I wrote a reminder-letter to NAB for inquiry in 2014 but all in vain.

It is painful that an attempt was made to plunder the money of the nation. I asked this question with due reverence that had you asked Sindh, KPK and other provinces that why you constituted companies there? On the other side, the NAB Chairman summoned the record of 56 companies from Punjab and I have no objection to it. The Chief Minister further told that ECSP, which is hundred percent owned by government of Punjab, gave an offer of 192 billion rupees for supervision of design and construction. Later on, this company demanded 34.4 million rupees under the head of design only. NESPAK gave a bid of 35.7 million rupees in head of design.

I was asked that you gave responsibility to ECSP, instead of accepting 35 million rupees offer of NESPAK, while its bid was 192 million rupees. I asked them to show me the letter through which consultancy was awarded to ECSP against a sum of 192 million rupees. NAB team searched but they had no such letter with them. I asked that you don’t have this letter and I showed the letter through which ECSP was given consultancy at the rates of 34.4 million rupees which was less than the NESPAK. It was stated without any investigations that Aashiyana’s infrastructure development contract of Ch. Abdul Latif and Sons Company was scrapped; this contact was not scrapped but it was mutually decided between PLDC and Ch. Abdul Latif and Company not to further continue this contract.

After some days of signing agreement with Ch. Abdul Latif and Company on 20 February, I constituted an inquiry committee under the chair of the then Secretary Finance Tariq Bajwa on the complaint of alleged irregularities in tendering process on February 23, 2013. According to the committee report, proposals of 51 companies were sent to ECSP for scrutiny but they directly gave the proposal or application of 52nd company by themselves which they were not authorized to do so. Under the recommendations of the Bajwa committee, we directed to send the matter to Anti-Corruption for further action. We called the bidders under public-private partnership model and said that whosoever will construct the maximum number of houses, will be allowed to make investment for construction of plazas etc.

Under this project, 6300 developed houses were to be handed over to us for giving away to the poor, low income people, orphans and the widows. I received a complaint about lack of work there in March 2017 and directed to immediately solve the matter as well as to take a judicious and transparent decision. Had I been willing to award this contract to anybody to, then why I would have ordered to decide on merit? An American Military Officer confessed of lying for the sake of protecting the national interest and I also confess and announce that I shall leave no stone unturned to save every penny of this poor nation and stop the corruption. I request Chairman NAB Javed Iqbal Sahib that revenge should be avoided; only accountability should be held and no politics should be made in the name of accountability.

I have remained in power since 1997 and if any corruption is proved then I shall go home myself. What sort of accountability it is that corruption cases amounting to billions and trillions of rupees are awaiting the attention and notice is issued on a matter which is hundred percent based on falsehood and hypothesis? Everybody knows that billions of rupees corruption was made in Islamabad Safe City Project and Babar Awan kept the file of Nandi Pur Power Project for three long years for the sake of bribery and its contract was given without any bid. Was Zardari Sahib a king? 2.5 billion rupees were released without fulfilling legal obligations in Chichuki Malian Project where not single megawatt electricity is produced.

A good hospital can be developed through 2.5 billion rupees and it is not a play of kids that the ruling elite gets its mega loans waived of and nobody cares about it while the poor are jailed for failing to repay 25000 rupees of a bank. This system will collapse because it is the negation of Iqbal and Jinnah. How system will work if a joke of concealing the real corruption is made? Replying to a question, the Chief Minister said that looted money will be brought back from across the globe if an opportunity is given in 2018.

The system of accountability will be transformed and instead of revengeful system of NAB a transparent accountability system will be introduced where accountability will be done in a transparent and judicious manner and no politics will be done. He said that he accepts the rule of law from the core of his heart that is why; he has appeared before the NAB. If I am issued the notice again then I will reappear before it but it will also bring before the court of the public and will disclose the secret at the appropriate time. He said that he requests the Chairman NAB that he will cooperate for inquiry and will come whenever summoned but if the transparent accountability was not held then God forbid, a bloody revolution will dawn.

Replying to another question, he said that his political opponents are satisfied with NAB today because they are not invited on tea. He said that we have written a new history by saving billions of rupees in energy and infrastructure projects. I again request the Chairman NAB from the core of my heart to rectify this institution so that it could play its due role for returning back the delights of the nation to the people, he added and further said that Chairman NAB should ask his staff that they should not become cronies of peoples party and PTI and don’t make accountability a joke.

For more information, contact:
Directorate General Public Relations, Punjab (DGPR)
Government of the Punjab
21-Mahmood Gaznavi Road (Abbot Road), Lahore, Pakistan
Tel: +92-42-99201390-1-2
Fax: +92-42-99201371-2