LAHORE: The National Accou­ntability Bureau (NAB) has summoned Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for the first time for an inquiry into the Aashiana-i-Iqbal housing scheme case.

Mr Sharif has been summoned for his alleged involvement in the cancellation of award of Aashiana-i-Iqbal scheme’s contract to successful bidders M/S Ch Latif and Sons, leading to award of contract to M/S Lahore Casa Developers (JV) — a proxy group of M/S Paragon City (Pvt) Limited — causing a loss of millions of rupees to the public exchequer.

According to NAB, the chief minister has been asked to appear before a combined investigation team of the bureau in Lahore on Jan 22 to record his statement in the graft case.

Earlier, NAB had launched the investigation against management/officers/officials of the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC), management and owners of Lahore Casa Developers, officers and officials of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and others.

CM is said to be involved in cancellation of Aashiana-i-Iqbal’s contract to successful bidders

Fourteen inquiries against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and two against his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif were initiated in 2000 and 2001 after former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf took power. However, the cases were put on the back burner following the deal that resulted in the Sharifs being exiled to Jeddah. The inquiries were reopened only after the Panama Papers case verdict.

The inquiries against the former prime minister relate to alleged illegal appointments in the Federal Investigation Agency, alleged irregularities in the allotment of LDA plots and the construction of Raiwind Road.

The Punjab chief minister has been facing inquiries for his alleged involvement in the allotment of plots in Nawan Kot and the construction of Raiwind Road.

NAB had earlier received a number of complaints regarding the ‘illegal deal’ involving 3,000-kanal government land between the PLDC and M/s Anhui Construction Engineering Group, owned by Paragon Exchange Director Ali Sajjad, M/s Bismillah Engineering Company owner and Paragon City chief executive Nadeem Zia, and M/s Sparco Group for the construction of Aashiana-i-Iqbal Lahore housing project under the public-private partnership.

During the case investigation, NAB learnt that the Punjab chief minister had used his position/authority unlawfully, causing a huge loss to the public exchequer.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2018

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