ISLAMABAD - In an apparent ‘damage control’ bid following exchange of hostile statements between NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari and the PPP-led federal government regarding corruption, the NAB chief on Thursday, passing the buck on the Punjab government, said the province with a majority of population of the country shared more responsibility of the money lost to corruption.

An official handout issued by the NAB here on Friday said the bureau chairman had welcomed the Cabinet Committee that would verify the allegations of corruption against the government. In a telephonic call to Law Minister Farooq H Naek, he requested for an early meeting of the committee. He suggested that representatives of the Punjab government should also be asked to attend the meeting as the Punjab represented majority of the country’s population and shared 65 percent responsibility. NAB Chairman Fasih Bokhari said a few days back the country was losing Rs 7 billion to corruption daily. Addressing a press conference on Thursday, he stated that corruption figures had jumped up to Rs 10-12 billion per day.

A source in the NAB said the chairman was apologetic in the press conference, succumbing to the pressure of the cabinet meeting which severely criticised his remarks. “Now by releasing such statements, the chief is trying to appease the PPP leadership which is not happy with his remarks,” the source added.

NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal Khan rejected the claim that the NAB had issued such a statement regarding the Punjab government to woo the federal government or under any pressure. “After the chairman highlighted the corruption money in the press conference, media, in general, and some TV talk shows, in particular, were giving an impression that the whole responsibly of the huge corruption falls on the shoulders of the federal government,” he said, adding the notion was wrong. He further said that this responsibility fell on the shoulders of the whole country and since the Punjab represented the major population of the country, more resources were utilised there and it shared more responsibility of corruption. "The figures about corruption mentioned by the NAB chairman represent the whole country,” he asserted.

Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: A spokesman of Punjab government has rejected the statement of Chairman NAB in which he stated that Punjab is responsible for 65 per cent corruption in the province, terming it unclear and ambiguous.

He said that Chairman NAB should verify against whom he is levelling this allegation.

The spokesman further said that the Chairman NAB should elaborate why he has targeted Punjab and is silent about Federal and other provincial governments working.

He said that Punjab government strongly denies any allegation of corruption against provincial government, Chief Minister Punjab, his Cabinet or the political leadership of the province and consider such statements as condemnable which creates doubts.

The spokesman stated that if Chairman NAB wants to level any allegation of corruption against Punjab government the statements of international institutions like World Bank, and Transparency International are enough to refute such charges.

He said that in the statement of Country Director World Bank Rashid Bin Masood published in all national papers on October 26, 2012 complete satisfaction was expressed over the transparent utilisation of funds and timely completion of development and welfare projects in Punjab and he had described Punjab government as a role model for other provincial governments.

Similarly, Pakistan branch of Transparency International in a letter in April 2012 termed setting up of IT labs in the province and the entire process of laptop distribution transparent, he added.

The spokesman elaborated Punjab govt’s stance that if Chairman NAB is referring to the corruption in various government departments, it is worth mentioning that Punjab government has introduced clear and well-coordinated Citizens Feedback System for its elimination and this system is proving very effective for the eradication of this menace in police, Revenue, Land Record and other government departments.

“In this system any citizen who has telephoned police emergency service or contacted the concerned department for the transfer of his land receives a telephone call or SMS message under a comprised system inquiring from him did anyone of the concerned department ask him for illegal gratification and what was the standard of service. According to the statistics of national newspapers 1500 persons daily give their feedback.”

The spokesman said that the land record computerisation project has been implemented in some districts of Punjab while it is nearing completion in other districts.

Moreover, the salaries of police employees have been substantially enhanced to root out corruption from the department, he stated.