ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday approved a fresh corruption reference against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

The reference is expected to be filed in an accountability court over the next two days.

When submitted to the court it will be the fourth reference to be filed against the former prime minister and is related to the alleged illegal construction in 2000 of the Raiwind Road (from Raiwind to the palatial residence of the Sharif family near Lahore).

The decision to file the reference was taken at an executive board meeting presided over by NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

The meeting also decided to investigate affairs of the controversial Nandipur power project and the alleged involvement of two former prime ministers — Raja Pervez Ashraf and Yousuf Raza Gilani — in corrupt practices.

In all, the meeting approved the filing of six corruption references, four inquiries and 11 investigations.

Interestingly, the incumbent Punjab chief minister is one of the accused in the Raiwind Road reference.

Bureau’s board also decides to probe involvement of two former prime ministers of PPP in corrupt practices

“The NAB executive board gives approval for filing of a reference against ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and others for illegal construction of a two-way road from Raiwind to Sharif family house in 2000 that caused a loss of Rs125 million to the national exchequer,” said an official handout issued by the bureau after the meeting.

Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as a parliamentarian in July by the Supreme Court in the light of investigations conducted by a Joint Investigation Team and he, along with his family members, is already facing three corruption references.

The approval for an investigation into alleged corruption in the Nandipur power project has come after considerable delay. Former prime minister Ashraf, former minister Babar Awan, former law secretary Masood Chishti, former water and power secretary Shahid Rafi and Ejaz Bashir are said to be main accused in the case.

According to the bureau, the state suffered a huge loss due to the inordinate delay in the completion of the project.

The Nandipur Hydel Power Station is situated on the Upper Chenab Canal near Nandipur village, at a distance of about 10km from Gujranwala on the Gujranwala-Sialkot road.

The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly that recently reviewed the audit objections for 2016-17 pertaining to the power ministry was told that investigations regarding escalation in the cost of the project from Rs22bn to Rs66bn had been completed.

The NAB board also approved the launching of an investigation against former prime minister Gilani for alleged misuse of powers and illegal appointment of several officials of the Saindak Metals Limited, including its managing director Muhammad Razzaq Sanjrani.

A reference was also approved against the former chairman of the Pakistan Tobacco Board, Sahibzada Khalid, over illegal appointments made by him.

The meeting also approved the filing of a reference against the former chairman of the Evacuee Trust Board, Syed Asif Akhtar Hashmi, for alleged illegal sale of 450 plots of the organisation.

Sindh’s former labour secretary Nasr Hayat will also face a reference for misusing powers, purchasing 200 plots on higher rates and causing a loss of Rs270m to the national kitty.

A Rs136m reference was approved against former Wapda chairman Tariq Hameed for allegedly granting approval illegally to private rental power plant called Watka Rental Power Project.

A reference was also approved against former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and others for allegedly obtaining Rs1.8bn as “compensation”.

Former federal minister Arbab Alamgir and his wife Asma will also face an investigation for having assets worth Rs2.48bn which NAB said were beyond their known sources of income.

The meeting ordered an inquiry into alleged illegal allotment of 5,222 acres of state land in Karachi against officials of the Sindh Revenue Department and the former chairman of Summit Bank Limited, Nisar Lotha.

A reference was approved against former vice chancellor of the Urdu University, Dr Zafar Iqbal, for reportedly embezzling Rs102m.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2017

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