LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday took a swipe at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over its purported ‘double standards’ and said the accountability watchdog had targeted ‘innocent people’ during the tenure of his predecessor, former premier Imran Khan.
“I wish no one goes to NAB’s dungeon (jail)…not even my enemy,” said the prime minister — who was detained by NAB in a graft case in 2018 — while addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of Bab-i-Pakistan and the infrastructure up-gradation of Walton Road in the provincial capital.
The premier said the accountability watchdog “murdered justice” and “innocent people” were victimised in the name of corruption charges.
PM Sharif also discussed the role of NAB in connection with the Bab-i-Pakistan project during the rule of military dictator Pervez Musharraf, who died last week at the age of 79 in Dubai.
Shehbaz questions watchdog’s silence over delays in Bab-i-Pakistan project
“During the Musharraf regime in 2008, this project was awarded to a brother of a golf club owner. Millions were misappropriated, but NAB did not bother to probe this [case of] corruption. This was a double standard of NAB,” the premier said.
“These double standards caused harm to Pakistan. The rule of ‘might is right’ must be buried forever by the 220 million people of the country,” he said, adding the country could not progress unless the nation collectively resisted such tendencies.
It may be noted here that NAB has become a ‘toothless’ organisation since the PML-N-led coalition government, which came to power in April last year, brought several amendments to the accountability laws.
PM Sharif said during his first stint — from 2008 to 2013 — as the chief minister of Punjab, he could not complete the work on this project or penalise those who were responsible for corruption in the project. “This (project) will be considered one of the failures of my tenure (as CM). I had complained about the contractor and cancelled his contract,” he said, calling that contractor a “fraud who wanted to import granite from Italy at a cost of Rs900 million”.
The prime minister said that it would be a shame for a “poor country like Pakistan, where the basic necessities of life like health and education were scant, to use costly imported tiles” for the construction of the historic monument, APP added.
Speaking about the current economic crisis, the prime minister said Pakistan was going through a difficult phase and pledged to work hard to steer the country out of crises. “No doubt, we are passing through difficult times, but I believe that with collective efforts, sacrifices, and hard work, we will overcome these hardships,” the premier said, adding that the elite class, of which he is a part, would have to sacrifice for the country.
“We have again gathered at the historic place (Bab-i-Pakistan) where Muslims who had migrated from India [after the partition] had offered sacrifices, and strived under the great leadership of Quaid-i-Azam, for the creation of a separate homeland,” the premier said. About Bab-e-Pakistan, the prime minister said it should be a place for the young generations and the visitors to get themselves aware of the history of Pakistan, APP added.
Referring to Walton Road, the PM said it was the place where thousands of migrants from India took refuge and locals supported them, renewing the precedent of Ansar-i-Madina. The unique precedent would always be remembered, the prime minister said.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2023
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