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I wish no one goes to NAB’s torture cell, not even my enemy: PM

Prime minister made these remarks while addressing a ceremony after laying the foundation of the Bab-e-Pakistan project

By APP & our correspondents & Sabah
February 12, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaking during a ceremony after laying the foundation of Bab-e-Pakistan in Lahore. — YouTube screengrab/ PTV News Live
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaking during a ceremony after laying the foundation of Bab-e-Pakistan in Lahore. — YouTube screengrab/ PTV News Live

LAHORE/RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said that the double standards of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had pushed the country towards destruction.

The prime minister made these remarks while addressing a ceremony after laying the foundation of the Bab-e-Pakistan project, which is a national monument and the upgradation of Walton Road in Lahore.

Speaking about the alleged graft in this project, the premier raised questions about the NAB’s performance that targeted innocent people but failed to summon those involved in cases like this. “I wish no one goes to NAB’s torture cell, not even my enemy. Innocent people were pushed against the wall. But in this project where billions were misappropriated, did NAB look into the elements who indulged in its corruption? It was the double standards that had 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 move ahead on the path of progress and prosperity unless they collectively resist these tendencies.

Minister for Railways and Aviation Khawaja Muhammad Saad Rafique, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi and other officials were present on the occasion.

PM Shehbaz Sharif said that they were passing through hard times but it was his firm conviction that with collective efforts, sacrifices and hard work, they would overcome these difficulties.

He said all segments of the society, including the elite class, will have to come forward and support the nation with generosity, adding that there was no other way to reach the destination except adherence to these qualities.

Recalling the journey of the Bab-e-Pakistan project, the prime minister said Nawaz Sharif laid its foundation stone in 1991 and then in 1997, when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came to power, work on the project was expedited.

Regretting this place was still in ruins, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that this was supposed to be a venue for national and international visitors, adding that there would have been a monument here with a library.

During late Pervez Musharraf’s rule, Shehbaz Sharif said he was told that Rs900 million worth of white granite was to be imported from Italy for this monument.

“When I asked why, the consultant said that without this granite, the creation of the Pakistan monument was unimaginable. I told him that Pakistan could not afford this. He replied that nothing can be done now and that they had given an order. I also gave him an order that this Italian granite would not be imported. That person filed a complaint against me,” said the premier.

The PM said he refused to carry on with the project with that consultant, adding that the contractor was a fraud, who had no experience but was given the project without bidding.

The prime minister, at the start of his speech, talked about the history of this place, saying that they had once again gathered at the historic place for which millions of migrating Muslims from the sub-continent had offered historic sacrifices and strived under the great leadership of Quaid-e-Azam for the creation of a separate homeland.

The premier said that they came across the worst kind of carnage with thousands of children and women braving the onslaught on their way to the newly-created homeland.

Referring to the Walton Road, the prime minister said it was the place where thousands of migrants from India took refuge and the locals supported them which renewed the precedent of Ansar-e-Madina. The unique precedent would always be remembered, he added.

PM Shehbaz Sharif said he was at the project again after years but it was still in ruins. “I will talk about it when the IMF agreement reaches its conclusion.”

“There are several other projects that were lost to corruption but no action has been taken. But we should not lose hope. We are also going through a difficult time and if we work round the clock and if the well-off do their part, this ship will reach its destination. The only condition is that we have to work day and night,” he said.

He then thanked the National Logistics Cell chairman and expressed the hope he would complete this project and work round the clock.

Shehbaz said, “I request Caretaker Punjab CM Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi to support this project and so will other departments. This is not a 10-15 year delay. This is a 20-25 years delay. I urge everyone to play their role and complete this project collectively.”

Under the project, a memorial will be built on Walton Road in the Punjab capital by establishing a museum, auditorium, art gallery and a library to commemorate the sacrifices of those who left their homes to live in Pakistan during the independence of 1947.

Speaking on the occasion, Khawaja Saad Rafique said the site for the national monument provided the first home under the open sky for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who migrated from their home to Pakistan in 1947. He said PMLN in its every tenure took steps to complete the project.

Khawaja Saad Rafique said that the Bab-e-Pakistan project was properly launched in 2010, however, no serious work could be done so far. He appreciated the relevant departments and institutions for cooperation in the renewal of work on this project of historical importance.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif called the Syrian Arab Republic Prime Minister Hussein Arnous to extend heartfelt sympathies to the brotherly Syrian people on the human and material loss in the wake of recent devastating earthquake in the Arab nation and offered all possible support in the relief efforts.

Offering condolences to the Syrian prime minister on his personal loss of family members in the horrific natural calamity, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed concern with regard to reports emanating from the region of severe aftershocks.

He shared that Pakistan had already dispatched the first batch of humanitarian assistance, which was being followed up with more relief goods sent via air and land routes. He added that a medical team from Pakistan would also support the humanitarian efforts in Syria.

Prime Minister Arnous thanked the government and people of Pakistan for demonstrating solidarity with the Syrian people at this difficult time.

Meanwhile, on the instructions of the Prime Minister, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) continued to send relief goods to the earthquake victims of Turkey and Syria.

On Saturday, NDMA dispatched 16 NLC containers from Lahore on trucks to the earthquake-hit region. These goods included medical equipment, tents and blankets for the winter season.

Federal Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Education Minister Rana Tanveer and Special Assistant Ata Tarar sent the relief consignment. The goods will arrive in 10 days via Iran to Turkey and Syria.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has praised the anonymous Pakistani who donated $30 million to Turkish quake victims. In his tweet, the prime minister said he was deeply moved by the example of an anonymous Pakistani who walked into the Turkish embassy in the US and donated $30 million for earthquake victims in Türkiye & Syria. “These are such glorious acts of philanthropy that enable humanity to triumph over the seemingly insurmountable odds,” he concluded.

A large number of social media users also appreciated the act of making such a big donation by the anonymous Pakistani.

PAF is making all out efforts to repatriate stranded Pakistanis in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan Embassy in Turkiye.

Eight Pakistani passengers will be evacuated on the PAF IL-78 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday extended felicitations on behalf of the Government of Pakistan and its people to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iranian people on the observance of their National Day and the 44th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

In his felicitation message, the prime minister said Pakistan and Iran enjoyed strong brotherly relations which had been based upon the shared religious, historic and cultural ties.

He expressed his satisfaction that these durable ties were further growing and strengthening with the passage of time, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release. The prime minister also expressed his good wishes for the continuous progress, prosperity and welfare of the brotherly nation of Iran.