Shahbaz rejects corruption allegations, warns they will have 'serious consequences'

August 30, 2017

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Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif addressing a presser in Lahore. — Screengrab
Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif addressing a presser in Lahore. — Screengrab

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif lashed out on Wednesday at ARY News in a lengthy press conference, insisting that the channel had wrongfully accused him of receiving kickbacks from the Multan Metro Bus project.

"Is it a joke to level such serious allegations against someone?" he asked in a press conference in Lahore.

On Tuesday, ARY News reporter Hamza Habib Farooq had alleged that a Chinese regulatory authority had released a report stating that the Punjab CM had received more than Rs10 million in kickbacks from the Multan Metro Bus project.

Farooq had reported that the Chinese regulator had found discrepancies in a company's income that had business links to a firm in Pakistan. On further investigation, the Chinese board discovered that the company in Pakistan belonged to Shahbaz Sharif.

He also reported that a letter was sent to Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) by the Chinese regulatory authority; however, then chairman Zafar Hijazi had "buried the case".

Shahbaz vehemently rejected the allegations, saying that "if anyone can prove a penny of corruption against me, they can hold me accountable".

He said that the nine companies that were awarded contracts of the Multan Metro Bus project had "certified" that they had not handed out any subcontract to, or engaged in any business activity with any company named Capital Engineering and Construction (Pvt) Ltd. He claimed that the said company simply did not exist.

He further said that ARY News had accused him of signing an appreciation certificate that was handed to the Chinese firm through which he allegedly received the kickbacks. He claimed that the reference number on the certificate allegedly signed by him was wrong. Furthermore, the certificate was typed in block letters and he has never signed any document that was written in such a format.

"This is 100 per cent forgery," he insisted.

He also warned that "such serious allegations have serious consequences" and added that such reports send out a negative message to the population of Pakistan and friendly nations that provide funds to Pakistan.

"What are you telling the youth, the judges and the generals of Pakistan? What message are you sending out to nations that we have friendly relations with? That we twist stories?" he questioned.

"Fear God! If you were in my position you would realise how serious these accusations are," he added.

He claimed that a "mafia" is behind the channel, that includes politicians that had their loans written off through fraudulent means.

Referring to the Panama Papers case that led to the disqualification of the former premier Nawaz Sharif, he said that courts also need to hold those politicians accountable whose cases are still pending, otherwise the "accountability system in the country will die".

He also demanded that cases pertaining to rental power projects and the Nandipur power project be concluded as soon as possible.

He also criticised Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, who has accused Sharif of corruption on several occasions.

"Khan sahab, I have answered all of your allegations politely but with proof. I filed a defamation case against you, but neither you or your lawyer have appeared in court once," he said.

"I will not talk about your personal life," he said. "But I will [continue to] disclose the shortcomings in your party's governance."