LAHORE: At a time when Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ‘promised’ to submit a written reply to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to defend himself in Lahore’s Ashiana-i-Iqbal scam at the earliest, the bureau has issued yet another notice to him with a direction to submit within a week complete detail of ‘illegal’ construction of a road leading to his and his elder brother’s (Nawaz Sharif) residence in Jati Umra, Raiwind.
Separately, NAB has also summoned Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf central Punjab president Abdul Aleem Khan and PML-Q parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly Moonis Elahi in connection with their offshore companies on Jan 29 and 30, respectively, at its Thokar Niaz Baig office.
Moonis Elahi said he would duly appear before NAB to respond to all its queries as “I have all the respect for the institutions”.
Retired Justice Javed Iqbal, the NAB chairman, had recently ordered investigation of 435 offshore companies owned by Pakistanis.
A source in NAB told Dawn on Thursday that it had issued a notice to CM Sharif to submit a complete detail of construction of a two-way road between Raiwind and the Sharif family residence in the late 1990s. “The Sharif brothers allegedly caused a loss of about Rs125 million to the national exchequer by illegally constructing the road to their Jati Umra residence,” he said, adding that the road was constructed ‘exclusively’ to facilitate the Sharifs as the area mostly had agricultural land at that time.
The NAB executive board had already approved filing a reference against Nawaz, Shahbaz and others involved in this (road project) case.
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hassan and Hussain, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law retired Capt Mohammad Safdar are facing trial in three corruption references filed against them by NAB.
The source said a reference against Shahbaz Sharif might also be filed if he failed to prove why he cancelled award of Aashiana-i-Iqbal scheme’s contract to successful bidders M/S Ch Latif and Sons and instead obliged M/S Lahore Casa Developers (JV) - a proxy group of M/S Paragon City (Pvt) Limited (which was developed by Railways Minister Saad Rafique) -- thus causing a loss of millions of rupees to the exchequer.
He said the chief minister had “promised” to come up with a reply to its questionnaire regarding alleged illegalities and causing of loss of millions of rupees in the Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing project at the earliest.
“We have not yet received a reply from Shahbaz Sharif,” an official confirmed.
CM Sharif is also accused of directing the Punjab Land Development Company (PLDC) to assign the project of Ashiana-i-Iqbal to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) resulting in award of contract to M/s Lahore Casa Developers (JV), thus causing a loss of Rs715 million and ultimately “failure of the project”.
NAB said Shahbaz Sharif also directed the PLDC to award consultancy services of this project to M/s Engineering Consultancy Services Punjab for Rs192 million whereas the actual cost was Rs35 million as quoted by Nespak.
After appearing before the accountability institution on Tuesday last, the chief minister had lashed out at it. He, however, parried the media question on the Aashiana-i-Iqbal project.
NAB has already recorded the statements of the chief minister’s blue-eyed officer -- LDA’s former DG Ahad Cheema -- and officials of Paragon City and Paragon Exchange in this case.
A NAB source said only 200 apartments had been built in this project so far and the affected persons had paid four-year installments. Under a contract 6,700 houses have to be constructed over 1,000 kanal.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2018