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LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has laid stress on the transparent and across the board accountability for taking the country forward and meet the challenges.

Corruption in the country can only be ended through ruthless accountability after which the country will be able to break the bagger’s bowl and live with respect and independence, he said while interacting with the media here yesterday.

A couple of days before he leaves the CM House and a caretaker chief minister takes control, Shehbaz Sharif held a lengthy session with the media persons wherein he severely criticised rival Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

He presented a glorious picture of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government but stayed short of expressing complete satisfaction saying that as human being he also erred.

The chief minister offered himself for accountability but said the process will need to be made transparent and across the board if Pakistan has to progress.

He said $16 million of Zardari were deposited in Swiss banks and asked whether NAB had questioned the PPP leader about it. He further said that corruption amounting to 22 billion rupees was made in NICL, Rs42 billion were looted from EOBI and Rs12 billion in Nandipur power project. These and many other such cases are with NAB but no progress was made on them, he added.

On the other hand, he said he has saved billions of rupees of the nation and this ‘fact’ should also be highlighted by the judiciary and the NAB. Swearing on the sacred month of Ramazan he claimed of saving Rs682 billion in the mega projects apart from Rs75 billion in Orange Line Metro Train, Rs4.6billion in Metro Bus and Rs3 billion in Lahore Safe City Project.

To a question, the CM said that a fraud of 70 billion rupees was about to happen in Saaf Paani project “and I stopped this fraud and those who were going to commit this fraud are free now. Whenever NAB called me, I went there and I have never refused to them”.

Given another chance to serve after the next elections, he will take the country much ahead, said Shehbaz – who has been the chief minister of a province for the longest period of time in country’s history.

He said free and fare elections are a national need and a guarantee to move Pakistan forward. Rumors mongers are not serving the nation and it is hoped that elections will be transparent, he said.

He claimed that conspiracies would end if he is granted an opportunity to form government after the elections.

About the allegation that he had funded Reham Khan for writing a book against her second divorced husband Imran Khan, Shehbaz claimed he had met Reham only once when she had interviewed him during the PTI dharna.

To a question he said consultation and not confrontation among the institutions was need of the hour. “No single institution can move the country forward in this geo-political situation and I have played my role in this regard.”

The chief minister claimed that different decisions were being given by the courts in similar cases. The decision of Nawaz Sharif is different from Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen though name of Nawaz was not included in Panama Papers, he said. Justice should be equal for all, he added.

Highly praising the role of Pakistan Army for curbing terrorism and defending the frontiers of the country, he recounted his recent visit to Miranshah where he saw the army men bravely defending the borders.

He also recalled a meeting with the army chief during which he lauded the decision of erecting fence on Pakistan-Afghanistan border to curb cross-border terrorism and offered contributing Rs1 billion for the fencing on behalf of Punjab.

Shehbaz Sharif said that politicians, judiciary, generals, media and others should bring about a soft revolution and all need to work jointly to avoid a bloody revolution.

He said that corruption worth billions of dollars will have to be stopped to break the begging bowl. This bowl will break when there is strict accountability and way of corruption is stopped.

The outgoing Punjab CM grilled the opponent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, claiming the party failed to serve the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during its rule. He claimed that PTI government showed utterly poor performance in energy sector and littered Peshawar with dust while abortively copying Punjab in metro bus project.

He said PML-N government has succeeded in putting the country on the road to progress despite Imran’s sit-ins which created chaos and his levelling baseless allegations and creating hurdles. He said the recent UNDP report has made it clear that Punjab is far ahead from KP and other provinces in education, health and in every other aspect.

Talking on dams’ issue, Shehbaz Sharif said, “Musharraf staged a drama in name of Bhasha Dam in 2007. He laid the foundation stone of this project without acquiring even a single inch of land for it. PML-N government [on other hand] purchased land with Rs100 billion and we will complete this project if another opportunity is granted.

“We will fight our case with India with regard to dams but we also have to take benefit of our resources.”

To a question, Shehbaz acknowledged the value of Kalabagh Dam construction for meeting energy and agriculture needs but said he won’t support this project unless all federating units agreed to it since national consensus and unity precedes every other thing. Favouring construction of Bhasha Dam, he viewed that it would be relatively more productive.