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Tuesday July 05, 2022

Narowal Sports City case: The charge-sheet against Ahsan Iqbal

Construction of the complex, which includes a cricket stadium, gymnasium, squash and hockey ground, began in 2009 when Iqbal was in the opposition

December 24, 2019

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) senior leader, Ahsan Iqbal, was arrested by Pakistan’s accountability watchdog on Monday, in connection to a probe into a sports complex built in his hometown, Narowal.

Construction of the complex, which includes a cricket stadium, gymnasium, squash and hockey ground, began in 2009 when Iqbal was in the opposition. But work picked up pace when the PML-N came to power in the 2013 election. That year, Iqbal was appointed the minister for planning and development.

Ahsan Iqbal is currently in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). The anti-corruption body has accused the PML-N leader of corruption and corrupt practices, adding that it has “sufficient evidence” to connect Iqbal to the offense.

Below is the charge sheet against the politician, according to documents available with Geo.tv:

• Illegally increasing the cost of the Narowal Sports City complex from Rs35.410 million to Rs97.520 million, without approval from the Planning Commission's Central Development Working Party (CDWP). Ahsan, adds NAB, was the minister of planning and development and the deputy chairman of the CDWP at the time. Rather than taking the project to the CDWP, he instead approved it on his own.

• Iqbal initiated the project without a feasibility study, which was in violation of the development manual of the Planning Commission.

• After the 18th amendment to the constitution, the project was devolved to the government of Punjab in 2012 to be completed of their own resources. Yet, reads the charge sheet, funds were taken from the federal government to bankroll the complex. Iqbal, it adds, “further enhanced the scope of the project without any demand from the provincial government.”

Grounds for arrest, as per NAB:

• Evidence collected so far directly connects Ahsan Iqbal

• More evidence cannot be collected without his arrest

• There is likelihood of destruction of evidence

• There is likelihood of the politician absconding