LAHORE - Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has taken serious exception to the statement of NAB chairman over non-cooperation by the Punjab officials in investigation calling the bureau chief’s remarks gave an opportunity to political rivals to malign the Punjab government and undermine its achievements.

Flanked by Punjab Government Spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, the law minister told the media on Saturday that NAB chairman being head of a constitutional institution should have informed the CM in writing, if he had any complaint against the government official.  He added the CM would himself have taken stern action.

He said: “I would also not have come out publicly against the NAB chairman statement. The way our ‘failed’ political rivals have exploited the chairman’s remarks shows as if politics is being played in the name of accountability.

He continued:  “No institution should play a partisan role.  Authority is exercised by the institutions within the limits. The words used by the bureau chief – a ‘general threat’– would demoralise the officials. The chairman should have named the officers who did not cooperate.

 NAB is a public department and a way is laid out for inter communications of the public departments.

The law minister also alleged that the NAB has singlled out Punjab for accountability while it was closing its eyes on the corruption in other provinces. “Why not NAB opening NICL and EOBI files and taking cognizance of the claimed one billion trees plantation in KP under the PTI rules and is only ‘kind’ to Punjab for accountability,” Rana Sana questioned. He said if Hudaibiya Paper Mills can be appealed why not other cases.

About the companies in question whose record was sought by the NAB, the minister said that these companies were initially 53 in number; 15 of them became inactive and two wound up their activity. He said the Punjab government at different point in time till January 31, provided record of 47 companies to the NAB. He said the government officials also spent the whole day at NAB office bearing highly humiliating situation but they never grieved. He said the despite the fact they have reservations on the competence and credentials of certain NAB officers, they fully cooperated with the Bureau.

He said the Punjab government has evolved a foolproof system of accountability against corruption for the sake transparency, merit and competence in the government affairs. He said the Punjab government through its own system took action against four companies and recovered from them not only money but made the persons involved in corruption undergo trial.

The minister said it is a standing challenge of CM Shehbaz Sharif to all to prove corruption of a single penny and he will step down. The Punjab government saved Rs 680billion in energy, transport and Orange Line and the saving was also a challenge to the rival to prove it wrong if they have evidence, he added. He said CM Shehbaz Sharif is himself very strict on corruption and is not ready to tolerate any corrupt official. As such, he beseeched the chairman to take care about publicly speaking about non-cooperation by the officers to his department as what he says, is being exploited by the political rivals of the PML-N government.