Published On: Thu, Feb 18th, 2016
Published in Category: Government

Govt, NAB lock horns as chairman gives Punjab bureau freehand to probe corruption cases

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Lahore: Amid tension between government and the watchdog, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Major (r) Qamar Zaman Chaudhry given freehand to Punjab Director General (DG) to speed up action against corrupt officials, local media quoting sources reported on Wednesday.

Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif, a day earlier, had warned the watchdog not to harass “honest” officials.

According to reports, Chairman of the accountability bureau headed a meeting in Lahore office of the institution which was attended by Punjab DG Syed Burhan Ali among three officials.

Reports quoting sources said that the bureau chairman ordered the Punjab officials to accelerate action and launch indiscriminate probes against corrupt officials. Reportedly, the Director General briefed the higher-ups over Education Minister Rana Mashood’s video case, youth festival case and cases against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Hashmi.

NAB Chairman appreciated Punjab subdivision’s efforts to curb corruption and faulty practices. He directed DG Ali to expedite inquiries of cases against government officials and other politicians.

He instructed the Director General to carry on investigations against corrupt officials without succumbing to external pressure from any section. He urged DG Burhan Ali to take such steps that 2016 is dubbed as ‘the year of National Accountability Bureau Punjab chapter’.

NAB had launched formal investigation in Mashood s video scandal in September 2015. The minister is alleged of colluding with Asim Malik, owner of a visa consultancy firm for funds for the ruling party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) at his house a few years ago.

In December 2015, the bureau had summoned the Education Minister to record his statement in corruption reference pertaining to students youth festival.

The probe was deferred by investigation officer for an indefinite period of time after recording statement of the accused. The provincial Education Minister had pleaded not guilty.

Mashood had stated at the time that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was done with investigation of the case and Lahore High Court (LHC) had given verdict in the matter also.

On the other hand, while responding to Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif’s call to NAB Chairman to take notice of its alleged dubious working, former president Asif Ali Zardari said that the bureau is not the only organisation troubling innocent people but Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is following suit.

Zardari said that former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain has been wrongly accused of corruption. He is being harassed for the last several months, he added. He criticised the government for allegedly violating 18th Amendment continuously.