Buzdar claims innocence in booze licence issue

Updated 10 Aug 2020

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Punjab CM Usman Buzdar complains of propaganda campaign against his government.
Punjab CM Usman Buzdar complains of propaganda campaign against his government.

LAHORE: Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Sunday personally defended allegations of receiving bribe for issuing liquor licence to a hotel in violation of law, being leveled against him, saying he has done nothing wrong and will appear before the National Accountability Bureau team to explain his position even if called repeatedly.

“People should stop believing hearsay and look for the hard facts,” the chief minister said and added that he neither committed any wrongdoing nor allowed anyone to do so.

“The liquor licence [case] file speaks volumes as there is not even any mention of chief minister’s office,” he said.

He was speaking to media persons after launching tree planting campaign on ‘Tiger Force Day’ at Shadman Market Park on Sunday.

Complains of propaganda campaign against his govt

Mr Buzdar is currently in the news for his alleged failure to ensure good governance in the country’s largest province. During his recent visit to Lahore, Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly asked Mr Buzdar for improving governance to silence the opposition as well as his critics within the ruling party.

Though during his previous visit to Lahore, the prime minister had asked the chief minister to rely on the feedback of party parliamentarians to know about ground realities, but during the recent one on Friday, the premier assured the bureaucracy that the officers would be given security of tenure to deliver. He also asked the bureaucracy to make strenuous efforts to improve governance and root out corruption in the province.

Responding to the corruption allegations, the chief minister said an organised propaganda was launched against the PTI government since it came into power and added the government was countering it on a regular basis.

He said the government’s business was being run according to certain rules, regulations and procedures and added that he never interfered into lawful functioning of the government business.

“The liquor licence file, you (the media) are talking about, has no mention of CM office,” he asserted.

Mr Buzdar said he would appear before the NAB along with all relevant record to explain his position as he did appear before the Supreme Court, the Lahore High Court, the Islamabad High Court and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

“When I have committed no wrong, my conscience is satisfied and there are no worries with regard to appearing before the NAB,” he said.

The chief minister stressed the media should first see the record and then hurl allegations. “Thousands of files move in Punjab on a daily basis and not all of these are routed through the chief minister’s office. The file in question [liquor licence] also did not come to the chief minister’s office,” he said.

Responding to another question regarding the prime minister’s concerns about governance in Punjab, Mr Buzdar said the premier had met the parliamentarians and sought their feedback.

“I cannot say that everything is good in Punjab. It’s a big province and no one can guarantee about anyone else,” he said and claimed that the premier had praised good governance at the top level in the province.

Admitting that he was responsible for taking action if anything goes wrong in the province, he said: “This is why I say that you (the media) should indulge yourself in constructive criticism instead of character assassination by publishing and airing fake news,” he said.

To express his strong resentment against his character assassination, Mr Buzdar quoted a line from an Urdu verse: “Hum agar arz karein gey tu shikayat ho gi”.

When asked to comment on the reports that some of his cabinet members were in a race to replace him, citing increasing corruption and not-so-good governance, he refrained from mentioning anyone directly and said, “Let them do their work and we will continue doing ours”.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2020