ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Tuesday mocked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for dragging party president Shehbaz Sharif in an alleged seven-year-old corruption case involving Rs4.5 million, stating that such a “fictitious” case could not be opened without the direct involvement of the NAB chairman.
Talking to Dawn after submitting a reply to NAB’s Rawalpindi Office on behalf of Mr Sharif, PML-N information secretary and MNA Marriyum Aurangzeb alleged that NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal in connivance with Prime Minister Imran Khan and his adviser Shahzad Akbar sent notices to Mr Sharif in the “concocted” case in the award of contract for beautification and horticulture work along the route of Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metro Bus Service.
She said in response to the NAB notice to Mr Sharif, they had asked the bureau to provide complete record and data about the case involving a seven-year-old matter when he was the chief minister of Punjab.
Asked why Mr Sharif had snubbed NAB by not personally appearing before it, she said there was no need at all for him to make personal appearance in the “fictitious case” without knowing its basis and details.
Ms Aurangzeb, who had reached NAB office with party’s deputy secretary general Attaullah Tarar, alleged the NAB officials kept them waiting for nearly an hour as they were not prepared for the situation. She alleged the NAB officials received the letter only after seeking fresh directives and approval from Prime Minister Imran Khan and Shahzad Akbar.
Lashing out at the government, she termed the recent case regarding a horticulture contract a part of the “most blatant political victimisation” campaign against Shehbaz Sharif and the PML-N leadership and yet they had failed to prove a single penny of corruption. She said what had started with accusations of Rs90 billion corruption had come down to a Rs4.5 million contract for flowers and plants along the metro bus route.
NAB summoned Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday to personally respond to the allegations of illegal award of contract for beautification and horticulture work in Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro project to a company owned by the brother of PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal. The notice had reportedly been delivered to Mr Sharif at his residence in Model Town Lahore through the city police chief. According to NAB officials, this was the second notice to Mr Sharif in the case as he had ignored the first one.
Ms Aurangzeb, however, denied the NAB’s claim and said Mr Sharif had received only one notice on the basis of which they had submitted the reply to the bureau.
Earlier, talking to media outside the bureau office, Ms Aurangzeb slammed NAB’s “hypocrisy”, arguing that the PML-N had built three metro bus projects in less than Rs100 billion while the bureau was blind to the Rs126bn worth “potholes and failing busses of the Peshawar metro”.
She said the “NAB-Niazi alliance” had already been badly exposed.
She said the thieves who had stolen hundreds of billions in sugar, flour, medicine, petrol and LNG scandals were free to siphon off billions more into their pockets while NAB conveniently looked the other way.
Ms Aurangzeb, who had served as the information minister in the previous PML-N government, said despite projects worth hundreds of billions this “vicious NAB-Niazi alliance” had faced embarrassment and shame in courts, because they could not prove a dime of corruption as the PML-N leaders, who were imprisoned in death row cells, were vindicated by the courts by the grace of God.
She said if Imran Khan and his “army of rented mouthpieces” were still desperate to file fake cases against the PML-N leadership, they could try to move courts against Shehbaz Sharif in the 5,500MW power projects, five metro bus projects, roads, hospitals and educational institutes projects that he set up for public good but were destroyed by Mr Khan. She alleged, “ATMs, mafias and cartels sitting alongside him in Banigala make billions in corruption with his patronage.” She said people had well understood “the tactics of Imran and company”.
Since Mr Khan knew he would not be able to win a single constituency in the next election, he was hatching the master plan of using electronic voting machines (EVMs) to change results, she said. She also lashed out at the government for bringing the Media Development Authority “to silence everyone who would expose this rigging”, the people could not be fooled as the PML-N would fight at every forum and beyond against the “unconstitutional measures”.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tarrar said NAB was “blatantly lying” about sending the call up notice regarding the horticulture case claiming that it was received on July 9. All such notices were legally served with written receiving and if NAB had any such receiving, the government “rented mouthpieces” should display that on TV.
He too was of the opinion that references of such relatively small value could not be filed without the direct consent of the NAB chairman by law.
Mr Tarrar said after detaining the PML-N president multiple times, when NAB approached courts with 58 volumes and over a hundred witnesses it was revealed that none of the cases was about corruption.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2021