The executive board of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) held a meeting on Wednesday during which approval was granted for the filing of various references, including a corruption reference against former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

The meeting, which was held at NAB's headquarters in Islamabad, was presided over by the accountability bureau's chairman, retired Justice Javed Iqbal.

Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, former secretary of Information Technology Farooq Awan, former press information officer (PIO) Muhammad Saleem, former company secretary Universal Service Fund Syed Hasan Sheikh, the CEO of Messrs Midas (Pvt) Ltd Inam Akbar and several other individuals from the Ministry of Information Technology were named in the corruption references.

The aforementioned individuals are accused of misusing their authority to illegally grant Messrs Midas an advertising contract in contravention of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules.

The act is reported to have cost the national treasury Rs129.07 million.

Additionally, the board also granted approval for the launch of investigations in four different cases against former president Asif Ali Zardari's foster brother, Owais Muzaffar alias Tappi, who was the Sindh local bodies' minister.

Other Sindh government officials named in connection with the same investigations include former Sindh chief secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas, and the Sindh Land Utilisation Department's former secretaries Ghulam Mustafa Phul and Ghulam Abbas Soomro.

These individuals are said to have abused their authority to illegally allot several hundred acres of land by the Malir river, which has reportedly cost the national treasury Rs33 billion.

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Furthermore, the board gave the go-ahead for an inquiry against employees of the Lahore Development Authority and the management of Nespak. Individuals from LDA and Nespak have been accused of exploiting their positions for illegal gains in the Orange Line Metro Train Project leading to losses of Rs4 billion.

The NAB chairman said that the bureau not only considers the eradication of corruption its national responsibility, but its officers are tirelessly working towards a "corruption free Pakistan".

He provided assurances that investigations into all cases will be carried out on the basis of law, merit, transparency, and concrete evidence and within the stipulated time.

Justice Iqbal said that NAB has always strictly followed its "accountability for all" policy and will continue to do so, adding that the bureau's first and last association has and will always remain with Pakistan and its citizens.

Gilani taken aback by Nab decision

In reaction to Nab's decision, Gilani expressed astonishment and voiced grave concern over the development.

"I met with a few N-League leaders on a few occasions and now all of a sudden a Nab reference has been filed against me," he said.

He remarked that permission to contest elections is given after scrutiny and questioned why permission was granted at all "if this was the case".

Furthermore, he expressed apprehensions after having met Akhtar Mengal saying that he fears the meeting will cost him even more.