ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Sunday alleged that the Sharif family purchased the London flats through corruption in construction of Lahore-Islamabad Motorway.
He was speaking here at a news conference, along with Minister for Communications Murad Saeed. Fawad said corruption was legally protected in the past and when the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway contract was being signed, at the same time Avenfield apartments were being bought by the Sharif brothers in London.
The minister singled out the menace of corruption as the main reason for inflation and weak national economy and alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) government signed expensive contracts worth Rs1,000 crore for the roads construction.
The information minister pointed out that Premier Imran Khan had always said “we are facing mafia; this is the mafia” which the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was fighting. “This is the reason why petrol, vegetables and pulses are so expensive today,” he claimed.
The minister emphasised that Imran Khan was not against roads; he was against corruption. The PMLN indulged in corruption in the name of building roads, noting Pakistan’s debt from 1947 to 2008 was Rs6 trillion, which Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif increased to Rs27 trillion from 2008 to 2018.
He recalled that a news item was published in an English-language daily stating that the cost of Islamabad Motorway had exceeded Rs60 billion. The minister regretted that unfortunately the money pocketed through loot was not spent in the country, rather it was transferred abroad. He continued that the PTI government had paid $2 billion in interest to Daewoo Company on the Motorway. He said motorways should be built, as without roads there is no concept of development, but the PMLN, during its tenure, started corruption business under the guise of roads’ construction, due to which the country's economy was weakened. “We repaid $10 billion loans in the last three years,” he added.
“Whenever we investigate power, road or development projects of previous eras, a mountain of corruption surfaces. “The Sharif family and Zardari family transferred the looted wealth abroad. There is a case of corruption worth Rs25 billion and this money was transferred to Shehbaz Sharif from the accounts of his employees.”
Responding to a question, the minister said the PMLN government had signed the motorway agreement in the 1990s; they sent money [received as commission] abroad to buy Avenfield apartments through ‘hundi’, and “we are trying to reopen the case”. He said the PTI would take up the matter in the Parliament now.
Fawad noted that the country imports oil, its prices are linked with the world market. If prices increase, it has to be subsidised to reduce prices within the country, but if the country is bound to repay loans, then there are difficulties in giving subsidy.
Referring to statements of the PMLN leadership about inflation and price-hike, he said Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif were shedding crocodile’s tears; but because of them there is inflation in the country today.
APP adds: Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed said the PTI government constructed National Highways and Motorways at a low cost compared with those built by the previous PMLN government.
He said the PMLN government minted around one trillion rupees in award of highways and motorways contracts, while the PTI government saved billions of rupees by ensuring transparency in road infrastructure projects.
The minister shared the details of per kilometre cost of roads, built by the PMLN and the PTI governments. He said the PTI government was constructing historic roads and highways networks on the ‘Build. Operate, Transfer’ basis and through investment, instead of loans.
He said the PTI government had completed planning for construction of additional 6,118-km roads, highways and motorways including Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Motorways phase-II and many other mega projects.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Energy (Power Division) Hammad Azhar strongly reacted to Shehbaz Sharif’s comment, saying the PMLN had started crying out for rigging two years before the elections, as the defeat for the party was looming. He said if they were so scare of polls rigging, why they were opposing the use of modern technology, the electronic voting machines (EVMs), in the upcoming polls.
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