Billion Tree Tsunami project being probed: NAB chief

Published December 3, 2021
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired justice Javed Iqbal addresses a ceremony. — APP/File
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired justice Javed Iqbal addresses a ceremony. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired justice Javed Iqbal on Thursday said that the anti-graft watchdog was investigating the PTI government’s much-touted Billion Tree Tsunami afforestation programme.

The afforestation programme launched during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s previous tenure in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had cost the province Rs17 billion.

During his visit to the NAB KP office, Justice Iqbal scoffed at critics for not pursuing PTI government-linked cases, saying the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) case was sub judice.

He said that the probe into Billion Tree Tsunami project was in process while Malam Jabba resort probe had been concluded in the light of the Peshawar High Court’s directives.

Claims bureau has summoned ‘sacred cows’— something that was impossible in the past

A Supreme Court bench, headed by the then chief justice Saqib Nisar, had in September 2018 stopped NAB from probing alleged corruption in the BRT project. The apex court in February last year had also stopped a Federal Investigation Agency probe into the project.

KP Minister for Labor and Human Rights Shaukat Yousafzai, while explaining the provincial government’s rationale for stopping the probes through stay order said that the project was built through a loan from the Asian Development Bank.

He said that if the provincial government had not taken stay from the apex court, the investigations would definitely have led to the stopping of work on the project.

Besides, Mr Yousafzai said, it would also have led to an increase the amount of the loan.

He said that the provincial government took stay from apex court to complete the project on time. “The BRT is now functioning,” he said.

Mr Yousafzai said that they were not opposed to investigations into the project and NAB and the FIA could investigate into the project after it was complete.

A NAB statement issued here quoted Justice Iqbal saying that NAB had summoned even “sacred cows” which was impossible in the past.

It said that Director General of NAB KP Farooq Naseer Awan briefed Mr Iqbal about the latest status of mega corruption cases.

Mr Awan said that NAB KP since its inception had processed 56,397 complaints, 3,831 complaint verifications, 1,940 inquiries and 765 investigations and filed over 560 references.

He said that presently, 192 corruption references were under trial in different accountability courts of Peshawar.

He said that NAB KP had recovered Rs12.621 billion from corrupt elements since its inception, whereas it had incurred expenditures of Rs3.103bn.

“The bureau has also recovered billions of rupees from fake housing societies and returned the looted money to investors,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, the NAB chairman said that the KP chapter was an important chapter of the accountability body and playing a vital role its overall performance.

He said that business community and bureaucracy were backbone of country’s progress and prosperity.

“Bureaucracy should not be scared of NAB as the bureau has regard for it. NAB is a friendly institution which respects law- abiding officers and departments.”

Mr Iqbal said that separate cells had been established in all offices of NAB, including in KP, to address complaints of business community.

He said that a total of 1,270 corruption references involving Rs1,386 billion were under trial in various accountability courts.

“NAB has decided to file early hearing pleas in the courts for early conclusion of these references,” he said. “NAB adheres to its decision of strictly respecting self-esteem of the suspects.”

Mr Iqbal said that NAB had signed a memorandum of understanding with China to ensure transparency in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

He said that reputed international organisations like Transparency International, World Economic Forum and Global Peace, Canada, had lauded the performance of NAB.

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2021

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