ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar Saturday said they had traced the trail of kickbacks and commissions received by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif and his sons.
He was speaking at a news conference here along with Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz.
Shahzad said the corruption virus existed from the very beginning but intensified during the last 30 years. He said the reference against Shahbaz Sharif was in final stages and they would like its hearing on day-to-day basis.
He noted they also tried to put questions as to who was Shahzad Akbar, from where he came and could he investigate and this was like when you are caught red-handed, you start asking, first you tell, who are you, from where you came and how did you catch this corruption; this was not the answer to the questions.
“You are a public representative and you will have to come to the courts like an ordinary citizen but before that, you would have to be answerable to people. Marriyum Aurangzeb is tasked with the duty to respond to these questions on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif, who says we should prove his involvement in kickbacks and this echoes Zardari’s statement of asking a noted anchor that they would have to prove that I had taken the vendor to the bank,” he said. Shahzad Akbar insisted that the onus of proof lay on Shahbaz Sharif as per the NAB law and then he explained how ordinary low-income employees were used in kickbacks in favour of Shahbaz, who would transfer billions in his personal account.
He said Masroor Anwar was one such character, who lived in a three-four Marla house but was so generous that he would transfer millions and millions in Shahbaz account.
The special assistant noted that Shahbaz Sharif had established several fake companies in the names of his employees, which were used for 'unlawful transactions' to whiten the black money, while the source of their income were telegraphic transfers (TTs) sent to them by the poor employees of their companies.
“Nisar Gill and Ali Ahmed, close friends and class fellows of Salman Shahbaz, were appointed as directors in the Chief Minister's Office, and were involved in the illegal activities as their frontmen,” he said.
He explained that a company used for illegal transactions was Nisar Trading Concern, registered in the name of one Rashid Karamat, an employee of Sharif Feed Mills, while another company Khan Traders was registered in the name of father of Shakeel, an employee of Ramazan Sugar Mills.
“And, as per documentary proofs, Rashid Karamat, the resident of a slum near Gulberg, Lahore was a procurement assistant earning Rs18,000 per month, while two employees of Shahbaz Sharif, namely Masroor Anwar and Shoaib Qamar, transferred big amounts from the accounts of Nisar Trading Concern and Khan Traders to the personal accounts of Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz, and copies of their CNICs (Computerized National Identity Cards) were available with the bank branches concerned,’ he noted.
The amount, he pointed out, was written in Urdu language on the cheques given by contractors and builders, but the name of the companies Nisar Traders and others, in whose accounts the same were deposited, was written in English in similar handwriting.
“When questioned about the cheque given by him and deposited in Nisar Trading Company's account, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Saiful Malook Khokhar replied that he had given the money for the party fund but the same was transferred to the personal account of Hamza Sharif,” he noted.
Shahzad Akbar emphasized that the burden of proof was on Shahbaz Sharif and his sons as billions of rupees were deposited in their personal accounts by their frontmen like Masroor Nawar and Shoaib Qamar, who as the employees of the Sharif family businesses were earning paltry amounts.
He recalled that Mushtaq Chiniwala and his son in a similar case had turned approves against the Sharif family, advising Shahbaz Sharif to stay in Pakistan instead if London if he was innocent.
Speaking on the occasion, Shibli Faraz said the country was suffering from two viruses – coronavirus and corruption virus.
“One is the coronavirus with no treatment in sight so far and another is the virus of corruption and its anti-dote is Imran Khan, who would surely do away with it,” he said.
Shibli said, “There is no need to worry about the corruption virus, as Imran Khan will eliminate it.”
He asked questions from the opposition: was it the incapability of the government and Prime Minister Imran Khan to strengthen the state institutions, took forward the accountability process, and give relief to the weaker segments of the society despite having limited resources?
The incompetent ones, he claimed, were declared incapable in the 2018 general election.
Referring to the Parliament session, he noted that while the PML-N lawmakers, having serious health issues, turned up for the session, Shahbaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, preferred to remain in quarantine for fear of virus, reflecting the typical elite mindset.
The minister recalled that Imran had fallen from 30-feet high platform and despite being a celebrity, he preferred to have his treatment at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Hospital, whereas those ruling the country for the last 30 years even went abroad for medical checkup.
“Imran demonstrated his association with the people by getting treated at the hospital he had built himself, while the former rulers stayed here only to rule the county and preferred to stay abroad when in opposition, having no faith in the legislature.”
“They sucked the masses blood by multiplying their fortunes and weakened the country’s foundations by obtaining massive loans. The reflection of these loans could be seen in the Avenfield apartments and other assets worth trillion,” he added.
“Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz and their sons plundered the national resources and shifted them abroad. Shahbaz Sharif again wants to go abroad, but this is not going to happen,” he retorted.
Shibli the government was pursuing a comprehensive roadmap to handle the challenge of coronavirus pandemic and all the federating units had been taken along to cope with the situation.
He pointed out that the supply chain of essential commodities, including petrol and diesel, was ensured during the lockdown.
He conceded that there was a difference of opinion among the provinces on the reopening of the public transport, but now a consensus had been developed on the matter largely.
He said standard operating procedures had been devised for the transporters and the public, and they would have to show responsibility.
“The labour class would be the main beneficiary of opening of public transport as, otherwise, they would face difficulties in reaching their workplaces as the industries are also being opened,” he said.
Shibli dispelled the impression of discrimination in supply of virus-related gears to the provinces and insisted that the federal government had provided personal protective equipment to hospitals in all the four provinces.
He stressed the need for national unity to tackle the challenge, while regretting that the opposition parties did not give any positive suggestions in the National Assembly session convened on their insistence and instead used it for political point scoring.
Replying to questions, he said categorically no NRO would be given under any pretext.
Shibli noted that during a news conference, he had raised some questions about the kickbacks and a new company with a mention of direct involvement of Shahbaz, but despite passage of three days, there was no response from Shahbaz Sharif, who had gone further deep into quarantine; he was in isolation already and now he has gone further into isolation.
Instead of replying to those questions, he said, unfortunately, Shahbaz pushed forward some of his loyalists, including a former prime minister, who tried in vain to divert attention from this matter.
“Their strategy was two-pronged: to directly accuse the government of following a failed policy on virus and the second was to target Shahzad Akbar. The coronavirus policy was based on consensus among the federating units and NCOC and NCC were formed in line with the 18th Amendment for coordination and consensus,” he noted.
He pointed out that Pakistan’s efforts against the virus were even appreciated by WHO, and hence their bid to divert attention failed miserably.
Meanwhile, responding to the government ministers' press conference, PML-N Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said the NAB-Niazi alliance dug a mountain over the past two years of persecution and political victimisation and came up with a dead, stinky, and petty accusation of Rs4.9 million molehill.
Marriyum said the NAB-Niazi tag team should die of shame for accusing Shahbaz Sharif of such a petty crime when he paid Rs80 million taxes every year.
“The faces that were rebuked and embarrassed in courts over false accusations on PMLN are now using public money for press conference at PID every day. This smear campaign and witch-hunt cannot hide Imran Khan's mega corruption,” she said.
Marriyum said Shahbaz voluntarily gave up millions worth of his legal and constitutional right as chief minister and saved the country hundreds of billions in public projects.
Imran-led PTI should die of embarrassment for such a shallow and petty allegation. This, she said, was the last nail in the coffin of accountability, she said.
She questioned how the allegations of billions and trillions of corruption had now stooped down to Rs4.9 million.
"The NAB-Niazi alliance had a deadline today to produce evidence of Shahbaz' mass corruption. The people of Pakistan were waiting for it. Imran pledged to commit suicide over approaching IMF but backed out. But after this massive defeat of his narrative of corruption, Imran should commit suicide if he has an ounce of integrity and honour left in him", Marriyum said.
“Imran and his team have failed to answer to the challenges. At least, the press-conference savvy joker of this administration should respond to those challenges. The government has miserably failed in the test of public service, has been caught red handed in mega corruption scandals, and has failed to prove a single dime of corruption against the PML-N, especially the Sharif family, this why, the media trial and smear campaign is on full throttle.”
She pointed out that this new wave of allegations and diversions was only to hide the fact that the report of sugar theft, which exposed Imran’s corruption, was being brushed under the carpet.
Marriyum said this new press conference was to divert attention from the amendments done in the Companies Ordinance by the government, which enabled corrupt people, who had made plea bargains to the NAB, to hold the public office.
She demanded that Imran must answer for the billions of corruption in 23 illegal accounts of foreign funding case and the cheques signed by Imran Khan from these accounts must be made public.
She also demanded that the record of Imran's money laundering through Hundi must not be kept hidden and be made public too.
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