LAHORE - The prevailing silence of the PML-N over the NAB boggy in Punjab is indicative of a state of preparedness on both sides for a full scale war that could begin any time.

Sources in the know about the inside developments in the ruling party and the NAB confide that the PML-N after initial bombardments on NAB to scare it away from casting threatening eye on Punjab, where this party has been in power since 2008, has changed the strategy to meet the trouble in the face. So is with the NAB which is quietly taking its investigations forward on the mega projects of the Punjab government.

They say in the first round Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned NAB to keep its hands off the officialdom to indirectly block its way into the mega projects of billions of rupees in the Punjab cities being executed under the supervision of Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Later voices were raised by PML-N ministers in support of the prime minister’s stand as well as to nip the pressure the PPP, PTI and JI built for NAB action in Punjab after FIA, NAB and Rangers had at their respective end dug out huge corruption in Sindh.

The PPP is particularly in the forefront for NAB action in Punjab when its key member Dr Asim Hussain has been in custody since mid-August allegedly for the corruption of over Rs400 billion, and now Fisherman Society chairman Dr Nisar Morai, another close associate of Asif Ali Zardari, is the second scalp from this party. As such pressure is mounting on Punjab for accountability of the mega projects and the provincial government is lining itself up to meet the upcoming situation.

CM Shehbaz asserts total transparency in the Punjab mega projects. He had challenged the NAB to prove a penny’s misappropriation or he would expose the institution.

In this background lie the overly and covertly made efforts of the government to either clip powers of the NAB or bring in the much-aspired for Accountability Commission about which the PML-N had moved the National Assembly during the last PPP government.

Sources say so far the government is quiet on both due to lack of requisite political support yet these options are not off the table. They say the PPP which itself has serious reservations about action on its men, may come to the side of rulers. JUI-F, which is partner of PML-N government at Centre, could also lend its support on new accountability law if promised by the Punjab government of addressing its reservations over Women Protection Law.

The N-government, sources say, is pursing wait and see policy about NAB activity and it has refrained its ministers from speaking loudly on Punjab accountability issue lest it should project the impression of panic on its part. Yet the government has not turned its eyes off NAB in Punjab.

The Punjab government has 28 mega projects completed or under completion. Of them, the sources say, NAB is investigating alleged corruption in Metro Bus Lahore and Rawalpindi, water filtration plants, the purchase of chemical for dengue spray in 2011, Metro Orange Line contract, the Punjab Youth Festival and some other projects.

They say a provincial minister was earlier interrogated by the NAB in Youth festival case and now he is facing two other cases: video scandal and illegal commercialisation of hundreds of plots. The minister claims innocence while NAB, as per reports, is about to complete the probe.

Sources say in Lahore Metro Bus, a project of about Rs30 billion, the NAB is investigating alleged corruption in the purchase of escalators while an arrested contractor of Orange Line Train has allegedly revealed corruption of crores of rupees. For this Rs165 billion mega project, the Chinese bank had sanctioned soft loan only last month while work on it has been going on for the last four months.

Sources say the NAB is also due to look into the transparent use of the public money. They further add that at the federal level, two persons closely related to the ruling quarters are being probed about their alleged corruption in contracts and tax evasion.