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June 1, 2021

Inquiry Commission on sugar scandal: High courts, SC found nothing irregular, Shahzad tells Senate

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar on Monday informed the Senate that the high courts and even the Supreme Court have found nothing irregular in the findings of the Inquiry Commission on Sugar Scandal.

He said this while winding up the debate on the report of the Broadsheet Commission headed by Justice (retd) Azmat Saeed and responding to the criticism of opposition over it.

Reacting to the opposition’s criticism, he emphasized that the court could be approached if any political party has reservations over the findings of the commission about the Broadsheet scam. The House held debate on a motion, moved by ruling PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz.

The advisor pointed out to the opposition that the report of the Inquiry Commission was challenged in every higher court, starting from the Lahore High Court to the Sindh High Court, the Islamabad High Court, and finally the Supreme Court.

However, he said at not even a single forum, anything was found irregular in the report as well as its findings. Shahzad maintained that recoveries have been made in the audit of last five years as a result of the report on sugar, and these recoveries were made by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), while criminal proceedings were under way. He made it clear that the criticism by the opposition parties on the report of the Broadsheet Commission and its head stands no ground. The advisor suggested to the opposition lawmakers to first go through the commission report thoroughly that was being laid before the House and then the government is ready to respond to their reservations, if any.

He said if anyone had reservations on the appointment of Justice (retd) Azmat Saeed as head of the commission or its findings, he should have had approached the courts, as all political parties have very senior lawyers as their members. As regards the claim of the opposition that the PTI government slogan of accountability has failed, he said it is totally wrong and explained that the NAB, which is being targeted unnecessarily, has recovered Rs 484 billion in the last two years and the Anti-corruption Establishment in Punjab has also recovered Rs 197 billion in two years whose recovery remained as low as Rs 480 million in last 10 years. He emphasized that it would not be appropriate to make every matter controversial and added that the doors of courts are open to address any complaints.

Responding to the remarks of Leader of Opposition Yousaf Raza Gilani about Swiss cases, the advisor contended that the country had to face a loss of $72 million as a result of the then PPP government’s reluctance to write to the Swiss authorities for re-opening of the case.

To this, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani ruled that the report should be dispatched to all lawmakers and then it would be discussed again if required. The House witnessed the opposition’s strong protest over the remarks of PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz about the opposition leadership while he opened the debate on his motion on report of the Broadsheet Commission. He said the commission has named former prime minister and PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif and former finance minister Ishaq Dar for their alleged role in the scandal besides many others. He charged: “On the one hand, these unwise and dishonest people call themselves leaders while on the other, they have plundered the country.” This remark led to protest by the opposition senators.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader pointed out to the chair that the copy of the report has neither been laid before the House nor they have gone through it and asked where was the report? Again to this, the Senate chairman ruled that any member could bring a motion under the rules of business.

Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem said the opposition should face facts and questioned why there was uproar from the opposition benches when someone talked about loot and plunder of the country or about any report of the commission or investigations about a scam. He wondered: “Why such voices don’t come from the treasury. However, the solution of the problem does not lie with breaking the mirror rather they should correct the course”.

JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza from Balochistan said the commission had become controversial before its establishment, adding that a number of political parties and families had reservations over its head and questioned what was the use of the report of the commission?