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LAHORE: In a significant development ahead of the general elections that are less than a month away, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal announced on Monday that references would soon be filed in connection with ongoing investigations into mega corruption cases.

“In the coming days, NAB will file references in the accountability court regarding some mega corruption cases, for which we have complete evidence. We investigated mega corruption cases which had been swept under the carpet in the past,” he said.

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Regarding an ongoing investigation into 56 public companies formed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif during his tenure in Punjab as the chief minister, Justice Iqbal said:

“Billions of rupees of corruption has been detected in the affairs of 50 or so companies in Punjab. Billions of rupees were spent on consultancies (in Saaf Pani Company). I am thankful to the chief justice of Pakistan for taking notice of this scam and reposing his trust in NAB. I want to assure everyone that the trust reposed in NAB will be kept at any cost.”

The Supreme Court, it may be recalled, had observed earlier that the Punjab government had spent Rs4bn on the Saaf Pani project so far but not a drop of safe drinking water had been provided to people.

Anti-corruption watchdog chief reveals one suspect offered Rs45m to blow up office

The PML-N president’s son, Hamza Shahbaz, and son-in-law Imran Ali Yousaf are currently being investigated with regard to the Saaf Pani project scam.

Shahbaz Sharif had skipped two back-to-back appearances in NAB in the case, while Hamza and Yousaf have also stayed away from the investigation.

Meanwhile, the NAB Lahore on Monday arrested PML-N candidate Raja Qamarul Islam in connection with the scam.

Mr Islam, former chairperson of the Punjab Saaf Paani Company, has been given a ticket by the PML-N to contest the election against estranged party stalwart Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan from NA-59 (Rawalpindi).

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif condemned Mr Islam’s arrest, saying: “The arrest of a PML-N ticket holder during the election campaign is unfortunate.”

Justice Iqbal, who was addressing NAB officials at the Lahore office, hinted that “top politicians” being investigated for corruption would not be picked up lest they should try to exploit the arrest for political mileage in the elections.

The NAB chairman revealed that NAB had received a letter by someone who claimed that they had been offered Rs45 million to blow up the NAB headquarters in Islamabad, in order to stop its ongoing campaign against corruption.

“Previously, it was said that the Bureau’s headquarters would be blown up. Then we received a letter from a person who claimed that he had been offered Rs45m to blow up NAB’s headquarters. I want to tell them... that life is in the hands of Allah. You cannot take away someone’s life by planning to do so. Even if you blow up the NAB’s headquarters, the awareness created among the people against corruption will not end. This wave against corruption will gather momentum and all those involved in corruption will not be spared,” said Mr Iqbal, emphasising that NAB would not give into any threats. A source told Dawn that NAB had earlier received this threat, following which the Bureau initiated inquiries against officials and politicians of the previous government.

“NAB, in collaboration with intelligence agencies, is investigating this matter to ascertain who is behind this threat,” he said.

In the face of multiple allegations, especially from the PML-N, that NAB’s actions were “politically motivated”, Justice Iqbal said that investigation into various cases had nothing to do with the July 25 elections.

“NAB does not see faces while investigating corruption cases. Its investigations cannot be linked with upcoming elections. Its only purpose is to fight corruption and protect Pakistan’s interests,” he explained.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018