LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said he is ready to face any punishment or quit politics if corruption of even a single penny is proved against him during all his three tenures.

“National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is investigating various matters in Punjab for the last some months and the government is extending it full cooperation in this process”, he told a gathering at the formal opening of Punjab Land Record Management Information System here yesterday.

Provincial Ministers Rana Sanaullah Khan, Dr Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, legislators, high ranking bureaucrats, representatives of cultivators and columnists attended the ceremony.

Speaking in the context of statement made by some Sindhi friends that Punjab government is screaming when NAB has put foot on Punjab government’s tail, Shehbaz said it was not the case at all. “We are extending all out cooperation to NAB in Punjab, so no question of screaming.”

Without naming Ch Pervez Elahi he referred to his government and said “the former ruler who wanted to elect president in uniform ten times during dictatorial era started work on land computerisation project in three districts but nothing was done practically and Rs90 crore of the poor nation were wasted. Why NAB did not investigate the matter, he posed.

The CM said scandals of billions of rupees surfaced during dictatorial era and documentary evidence were also available but no action had been taken. He said he will soon bring the facts to light.

Accountability is essential for progress and prosperity of any society, he said, adding he is ready to face any punishment or quit politics if corruption of even a single penny is proved against him.

He said that he has no enmity with NAB and has always supported accountability as corruption is the root cause of poverty. However, it is not proper to talk on mere assumptions. He said that media is fully aware and can judge the facts. He said that Punjab government has taken solid measures for the elimination of corruption from the province.

The chief minister said completion of land record computerisation is a historic event in the history of Punjab and Pakistan as such revolutionary measures will not only result in progress of the country but also in regaining its lost status. He said that like land record computerisation, the other obsolete systems are also being revamped.

Shehbaz Sharif said that with the completion of revolutionary and historic project of land record computerisation, land record centres have started extending services in 143 tehsils of Punjab. He said that under this project, land record of 23,000 villages has been computerised.

He said that the government had resolved to eliminate the obsolete system and patwar culture from the province and it has been successful. The computerisation of record will help eliminate disputes, unnecessary litigation, corruption and irregularities in the matters relating to non-movable properties as well as rid the people of Patwari culture, he said.

The chief minister said this has changed the situation and now no one will have to give bribe for acquiring ownership deed or transfer of land, and the problems of the property owners coming to land record computerisation centres would be resolved in a respectable manner. He said that legislation will also be carried out in the assembly for further strengthening the system. He held that the new system will continue even if the government is changed.

He said that merit, rule of law and transparency have been promoted in the province. He said that besides recruitments of lakhs of teachers, policemen, vacancies in all departments have been filled on merit and under the same policy, three thousand recruitments have been made for land record centres and no one has been appointed on political basis.

Shehbaz said that World Bank representatives have declared land record computerisation project as splendid and transparent whereas Supreme Court in its observation in a case has also commended this Punjab project and declared it an example for other provinces.

He said that third party validation of the project will be arranged twice in a year due to which transparency will be maintained. He said that all Commissioners, DCOs and ACs have been made duty bound to visit the centres and submit their reports to the cabinet.

The chief minister, at the conclusion of the speech, reiterated the resolve to eliminate child labour from brick kilns without budging to any pressure of the protesting brick kiln owners. He said that child labour at brick kilns will be curbed and the brick owners involved in forced labour will be sent to jail.