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Pakistan

Web Desk
May 27, 2020

Shahzad Akbar focuses on PML-N, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in new sugar report 'revelations'

Pakistan

Web Desk
Wed, May 27, 2020
Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Accountability, Shahzad Akbar, addresses press conference at PID media centre in Islamabad, May 27, 2020. APP/APP18-27

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Accountability Barrister Shahzad Akbar on Wednesday said new revelations had come to light regarding the sugar probe report, and pinpointed the PML-N and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for providing the most subsidies to the sugar industry.

Addressing a press conference here in the federal capital, Akbar said Rs29 billion worth of subsidies were given over the past five years, with only Rs2.4 billion offered by the Punjab government during the incumbent PTI government's tenure.

"In PML-N's tenure, more than Rs26 billion worth of subsidies were given," he said.

Terming it a criminal act, he added that permission to export 400,000 tonnes of sugar was given in March 2017.

"[Former prime minister] Shahid Khaqan Abbasi gave Rs20 billion worth of subsidies. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi considered himself to be Laiq-e-Azam [the most competent person]," he said, adding that the PML-N leader headed the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) at the time.

'Report is in English and lengthy'

The special assistant said the report from the sugar probing commission was presented in the federal cabinet, which decided to make it public. The investors profited from fluctuations in sugar prices while the common people and farmers bore the brunt, he added.

PM Imran, he underlined, had formed a commission to probe the fluctuation in sugar prices and the consequent report was made public as soon as it was received.

"Maybe some of our friends did not read the report properly. Perhaps the Opposition didn't understand it as the report is in English and lengthy," Akbar said.

"Audit matters have been reviewed in the report," he noted, adding that a very important portion in it was the amount of subsidy given by PML-N and specifically by Abbasi.

Subsidies were given due to "mismanagement in determining the production prices", he said.

Shehbaz 'will have to answer in court'

"Salman Shehbaz was the facilitator of the sugar subsidies," Akbar claimed, adding that PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif had said there was no link between the subsidies and his son Salman's businesses.

"Shehbaz Sharif has isolated himself. The case of TTs against him is in its final stages. Once it is finalised, he will have to answer in court," he said, referring to an ongoing probe into telegraphic transfers (TTs) tracing back to the former chief minister of Punjab.

"How was Shehbaz Sharif able to purchase expensive homes for his wives in housing societies? These expenses were carried out through kickbacks and fake accounts.

"Shehbaz Sharif will have to face the courts once the TT case is finalised," Akbar reiterated.

Looping in the government of Sindh, he said the leadership gave the most benefit to Omni Group through subsidies, which had been opposed by the provincial cabinet.

"The chief minister of Punjab appeared in front of the sugar inquiry commission but the chief minister of Sindh did not," he said. "The [PTI] government will take homogeneous action against our party and others" named in the report.

Medicine 'imported from London'

The PML-N has been politicking since day one while Pakistan's premier, institutions, and the public fight the novel coronavirus, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill said later in the day.

Reacting to PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb's press conference, Gill said: "These are the people whose medicine for fever is imported from London.

"Marriyum Aurangzeb is right; the dilapidated health system their government left really does not have any strength.

"We're taking steps for prevention from coronavirus to the best of our abilities and with the best intentions," he added.

'Mini-Nawaz Sharifs'

"The PML-N leaders are probably forgetting that he [PM Imran] is neither Shehbaz [Sharif] nor Nawaz [Sharif] that he would go to London to spend Eid," the special assistant retorted.

"Imran Khan is here with the people in these difficult times and is reviewing the situation," he added.

Aurangzeb should explain whether her party completely understood the sugar inquiry report, he added rhetorically, noting further that the PML-N is "often unable to comprehend reports written in English".

Gill said no government in the past had so strongly cornered the sugar mafia and that there was "never a shortage of sugar in the country be it before the export or after".

"The mini-Nawaz Sharifs present in the market hoard and speculate but Imran Khan is the one who will take these mini-Nawaz Sharifs to task," he added.

Imran Khan pledged 'life to serving Pakistan'

PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan also responded, saying: "Those who plundered the country and transferred wealth abroad, who came to power and kept looting the people and then fleeing, who built properties abroad, built flats in London, and set up palaces, who, when in power, publicly stole from and robbed the public, who continue to indulge in corruption and money-laundering and, when not in the government, run away and become absconding, they should be put on the posters announcing searches for the missing, wanted, absconding, fleeing, the criminals!"

Noting that PM Imran had accounted for every penny and "emerged successful in the courts", the PTI senator said the premier had pledged his life to serving Pakistan.

"Imran Khan will live here and die here. Imran Khan is fighting for this nation. Imran Khan is working for the poor.

"The PML-N and PPP are a gang of corrupt individuals and they unashamedly launch criticism. They are again demanding NRO and they are creating noise.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan will not give them NRO," he added.