Punjab govt spokesman says NAB chief’s remarks regarding non-cooperation ‘untruthful’
NAB spokesman says watchdog received no response from provincial govt despite several written and verbal reminders
LAHORE: The war of words between the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Punjab government escalated on Friday after the latter accused the anti-graft watchdog’s chief of making frivolous statements regarding non-cooperation by provincial departments, while the former reasserted its claims.
Reacting to a Punjab government statement that criticised NAB Chairman Justice (r) Javed Iqbal for making public remarks instead of using official channels, a NAB spokesman said that the bureau wrote four letters to the provincial government seeking record of the investigation of various cases against Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, but it received no response.
He said that the letters had come following several verbal requests made by NAB went unnoticed.
“The Punjab government’s statement is not based on facts as NAB used all channels of communications to seek the provision of record of 56 public limited companies, which met with failure,” the statement concluded.
Earlier in the day, the Punjab government said: “There is no truth in the statement [of the NAB chief] as all the departments of the government are fully cooperating with the accountability bureau.”
“A high-profile official, such as the NAB chief, should avoid giving public statements against the [Punjab] government whose hallmarks are transparency and merit,” the Punjab government spokesman said, adding that “if the bureau’s chief has had any complaints towards any of the provincial departments, he should have had officially communicated to the government for its redressal.”
‘PUNJAB GOVT NOT COOPERATING’:
NAB and the Punjab government have entered a protracted exchange of allegations after the NAB chief decided to come after the government over “corruption in several public-listed companies of the province”.
On Thursday, Javed Iqbal had complained that the departments of the Punjab government were not cooperating with the anti-graft body, and warned that such an attitude would not be tolerated in the future; a claim later categorically denied by the government’s spokesperson.
The NAB chief had said that he would make all-out efforts in cancellation of the bail of the influential culprits who pressurise witnesses, while warning that those who give directives on “someone’s orders will eventually have to bear the brunt of their wrongdoings”.
On February 8, the NAB chief took notice of the non-provision of record by the government and asked the bureaucracy in Punjab to provide the NAB with details and abide by the law as non-provision of information to the bureau is against the law and comes under hampering with the inquiry under the NAB law.
Last month, the NAB had also sought records from the Punjab chief secretary after a report for the government failed to comply with the request of the NAB pertaining to the provision of the record.
Earlier, the Punjab government had published an advertisement in local papers on Jan 28, drawing public attention to the matter pertaining to a closure of an inquiry into an illegal award of a contract to a private company for extracting minerals in Chiniot.
At the time, the spokesperson of the government had said that the public advertisement was aimed at “setting the record straight”.
He went on to allege that the NAB had closed the inquiry despite it was told to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
PTI SUBMITS ADJOURNMENT MOTION ON NAB CHIEF’S STATEMENT:
As the NAB and Punjab government enter a low-key quarrel, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chipped in to cash in on the situation.
The party submitted an adjournment motion on Friday following the NAB chief’s statement that departments of the Punjab government were not cooperating with the bureau.
The adjournment motion was submitted by the PTI leader and opposition leader in Punjab Assembly Mehmoodur Rashid.
The motion said that the NAB chief had said that non-cooperation of the Punjab government was intolerable since Rs84 billion was looted. In his motion, Mehmood called for a debate in the provincial assembly so that the truth is revealed before the nation.