The Punjab Assembly has recently been informed of the loans written off by a bank from July 2008 to June 2016, detailing names of beneficiaries along with the amounts. Such schemes have already come under fire multiple times in the past for alleged corruption and imprudent lending decisions. That fact that loans were written off, amounting to a staggering Rs 1589 million, extended up to 168 different companies and individuals, along with the mark-up, is not helping it redeem its tarnished reputation. The only meagre justifications have been provided in return by the bank, that these loans were a ‘business consideration’.

Admittedly financial institutions have the autonomy to give loans as they see fit, but the lack of accountability in these transactions are raising a cause for concern. A company by the name of Husnain Cotex Ltd, belonging to Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, was given the contract to construct the new Punjab Assembly building during Musharraf’s rule, had a loan amounting to about Rs 81 million written off. The only explanation that can be deduced from this is either proper due diligence was not carried out before sanctioning these loans, or hasty decisions were made due to external pressure. It is therefore important that an investigation be carried out into this important matter.

Related issues of alleged corrupt lending (one to Haris Steel Mills amounting to Rs 8.4 billion in particular, and the case involving its former President Hamaish Khan) have made it into media spotlight and they are still pending in court. Financial institutions need to be held accountable for any imprudent decisions made in the past and accountability should be ensured for all future transactions.