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LAHORE: As ‘mystery shrouds’ the National Accountability Bureau’s probe into corruption charges against Punjab Education Minister Rana Mashhood Ahmed, the minister has dared the NAB chairman to either bring up evidence against him or close the inquiry.

The completion of inquiry does not seem in sight despite a passage of 20 months. The minister says he fails to understand as to why the bureau is taking too much time to complete its investigation [against him].

“To my surprise the investigators had no clue what they had to investigate [from me]. The notices sent to me were quite insulting and objectionable,” Ahmed said in yet another letter written to NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry.

The NAB Lahore had launched investigation into a video clip showing Rana Mashhood apparently receiving money for “party fund” from a ‘fraudster’ Asim Malik, owner of a visa consultancy firm - Future Concern - at his house. It also probed the alleged corruption in the Punjab Youth Festival 2014 and entries of ‘fake record’ in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Mashhood asks NAB chief to produce evidence or close inquiry

The minister said he had been asking since October 2015 to provide him a copy of the complaint and the incriminating material [against him] but nothing had been provided to him as yet. “No one is bothered [in NAB] to reply to my queries but resorted to malign me through the media. A vilification campaign is going on against me in the media on the basis of the inquiry of which no document or gist of allegations or approval of the same was ever provided to me although I kept appearing in inquiry to avoid any conflict as politicians are easy prey for everyone,” he said.

Mr Ahmed further said: “The NAB Punjab [allegedly] called hundreds of people from political workers to officials of Sports Board and kept on intimidating, insulting and torturing them mentally, forcing them to give statement against me. The NAB did not even spare the lady workers and harassed them too. I ignored all these ‘illegalities’ and ‘highhandedness’ as I was waiting for the outcome of the inquiry. I avoided challenging all unlawful notices and proceedings against the spirit of section 19 of NAO 1999 which were totally shallow and frivolous.”

On the letter of the education minister, a NAB official told Dawn that the probe would be completed on “merit and available evidence.”

The NAB reportedly recorded the statements of different officials associated with the Youth Festival but it faced problems in video clip case [against the minister] because Asim Malik fled to the UK allegedly after receiving millions of rupees from people on the promise of sending them abroad on student and visit visas and immigration.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2017