Buzdar, Maryam called in by NAB

August 07, 2020

LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau has summoned Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz in separate cases.Buzdar has been called in an inquiry for awarding...

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LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau has summoned Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz in separate cases.

Buzdar has been called in an inquiry for awarding an alleged illegal liquor licence after one and a half years of receiving a complaint. It is pertinent to mention here that the NAB Lahore had started the complaint verification process of this matter against Buzdar in April 2019. It has been learnt that the NAB Lahore has asked Buzdar to appear before it on August 12.

As per NAB documents available with The News, the Unicorn Prestigious Hotel Lahore had applied to the Excise and Taxation Department for obtaining an L-2 liquor licence without firstly obtaining registration and licence from the Department of Tourist Services Punjab under the Pakistan Hotels and Restaurant Act 1976 and Rule 1977 with a 4/5 star rating.

The condition of having 4/5 star rating was essential for obtaining L-2 liquor licence after the CM in 2009 approved a policy which restricted grant of L-2 Licence only to hotels having 4/5 star rating. The officers of the Excise and Taxation Department granted licence to the said hotel in 2019 in violation of the 2009 CM policy and without registering the licence of the Unicorn Prestigious Hotel from the Department of Tourist Services Punjab.

As per the NAB, the Excise Department referred the matter to the CM office for three times to get approval of the CM. It has been alleged by the NAB that despite having the knowledge about the sensitivity of the matter as highlighted by the Excise Department time and again, the CM office willfully failed to exercise the lawful authority to prevent the issuance of liquor licence to the Unicorn Prestigious Hotel. Interestingly, the NAB documents state that “it has been alleged that Rs 50 million was taken as bribe for granting the illegal L-2 liquor licence. It is important to mention here that in April 2019, the NAB had started verification process of two complaints against Buzdar.

Along with illegal awarding of liquor licence, the CM was also accused of getting a helicopter for his official use insured for Rs 70 million instead of Rs 30 million. It was alleged that Buzdar had directed to pay the insurance amount through a supplementary grant.

Meanwhile, the National Accountability Bureau on Thursday summoned PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz in a case pertaining to alleged illegal transfer of government land in connivance with local government officials and assets beyond means.

The NAB has also summoned former DC Lahore Noorul Amin Mengal in this regard. It has been learnt that this case is against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his mother Shamim Begum, daughter Maryam Nawaz and brother Shahbaz Sharif.

The NAB Lahore has asked Maryam to appear before the investigators on August 11 along with details of land acquired by her in Raiwind and Jati Umra. She has been asked to provide sources of funds from which the land was purchased. The NAB has asked Maryam to come with details if she has sold any piece of land along with details about the use of land whether it is being used for agriculture or any commercial activity.

As per sources in the bureau, this investigation is about 3,568 Kanals acquired by the Sharif family in 2013. As per sources, the NAB will also investigate the former PM along with his mother Shamim Begum after they return to the country from the UK.

Maryam is accused of acquiring 180 Acres (1,440 Kanals) of what was allegedly supposed to be government land in Raiwind. The land transfer was done during DC Noorul Amin Mengal and former DG LDA Ahad Cheema’s tenure.

Sources said a piece of land measuring over 3,568 Kanals was bought by the Sharif family in 2013. The largest part of the property, 1,936 Kanals, was transferred in the name of Nawaz’s mother Shamim Bibi. The land that was transferred to Maryam was 1,440 Kanals. The sources said a 96-Kanal plot each was also transferred to Nawaz and Shahbaz. The sources claimed that most of the land was government land which the Sharif family illegally got transferred in their name at cheap rates. Moreover, only the LDA had the authority to deal with such matters but the Sharif family involved local government officials to get their job done.

It has been learnt that the property was declared as green land to stop construction around the Sharif family’s Jati Umra mansions.

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