ISLAMABAD - Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Saturday said the government was pursuing a comprehensive roadmap to handle the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a joint news conference along with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar, he said despite the economic constraints, the government had announced a huge stimulus package of Rs 1.2 trillion to provide a cushion and support to every segment of the society affected by the contagion.

Under the package, he said, Rs 480 billion was allocated for the business community and exporters whereas Rs 570 billion was earmarked for providing relief to the common man, including Rs 200 billion for daily wagers, Rs 150 billion for vulnerable families, Rs 70 billion for reduction in petroleum products’ prices, Rs 50 billion for ensuring availability of essential items at the Utility Stores and Rs 100 billion for relief in utility bills.

He said under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme, Rs 104 billion had so far been disbursed among the deserving families in the most transparent and efficient manner.

Senator Shibli Faraz said all the federating units had been taken along to cope with the situation arising out of the pandemic. He said the federal government had provided personal protective equipment to hospitals in all the four provinces.

Virus of corruption will be wiped out soon: Shibli

Stressing the need for national unity to tackle the challenge, the Information Minister regretted that the opposition parties did not give any positive suggestions in the National Assembly session convened on their insistence and instead used it for political point scoring.

He said the national resources were plundered in the past in a systematic manner. Opposition Leader Shehbaz Sharif, he said, did not come to National Assembly to protect himself from the coronavirus and assigned the task to his colleagues, who tried to discredit the government calling it “incompetent”.

He reminded the opposition that the people of Pakistan had rejected the corrupt and inefficient rulers in the 2018 general election.

He said on the one hand, the country was facing the coronavirus pandemic and on the other, it was fighting the menace of corruption. The ‘viruses of corruption’ had misused and plundered the national wealth, which was reflected in properties like Avenfield apartments (London). The past rulers, including the Sharif family, had built their properties abroad and they would leave the country in case of any serious crisis.

 

Whenever they (past rulers) needed medical treatment they flew to the United Kingdom, whereas Imran Khan after falling from a 30-feet high platform preferred to get treatment from the hospital built by him in Pakistan, he added.

 

The minister said so far, no vaccine was available for the coronavirus, but fortunately the anti-dote for the virus of corruption was available in the shape of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was committed to eradicate the menace from the country.

 

Speaking on the occasion, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar said the trail of kickbacks and commission received by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif and his sons had been exposed.

 

Being a politician and past public office-holder, Shehbaz Shahbaz was answerable to the people of Pakistan, and he would have to respond to the corruption charges at public forums, he said.

 

Shehzad Akbar said the National Accountability Bureau would soon file a new reference against Shehbaz Sharif on the latest disclosure of kickbacks and money laundering, and demanded that his trial should be conducted on day to day basis.

 

He claimed that Opposition Leader had established several fake companies in the names of his employees, which were used for ‘unlawful transactions’ to whiten the black money. The source of their income was telegraphic transfers (TTs) sent to them by the poor employees of their companies, he added.

 

The SAPM said Nisar Gill and Ali Ahmed, close friends and class fellows of Salman Shehbaz, were appointed as directors in the Chief Minister’s Office, and were involved in the illegal activities as frontmen.

 

He said a company used for illegal transactions was Nisar Trading Concern, registered in the name of Rashid Karamat, an employee of Sharif Feed Mills, while another company Khan Traders was registered in the name of the father of Shakeel, an employee of Ramzan Sugar Mills.

 

As per documentary proofs, Rashid Karamat, the resident of a slum near Gulberg, Lahore was a procurement assistant earning Rs 18,000 per month, he added.

 

Shehzad Akbar said two employees of Shehbaz Sahrif, namely Masroor Anwar and Shoaib Qamar, transferred big amounts from the accounts of Nisar Trading Concern and Khan Traders to the personal accounts of Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz, and copies of their CNICs (Computerized National Identity Cards) were available with the bank branches concerned, he added.

 

He said the amount was written in Urdu language on the cheques given by contractors and builders, but the name of the companies Nisar Traders and others, in whose accounts the same were deposited, was written in English in similar handwriting.

 

He said when questioned about the cheque given by him and deposited in Nisar Trading Company’s account, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Saiful Malook Khokar replied that he had given the money for the party fund but the same was transferred to the personal account of Hamza Sharif.

 

The SAPM said three days back he had made many disclosures against Shehbaz Sharif regarding kickbacks and money laundering, but he had not given any concrete response to the allegations.

 

He said Shehbaz Shairf was in quarantine and would never reply, however, some of his cronies, including a former prime minister, would give ridiculous explanations as was done a couple of days back.

 

He said the burden of proof was on Shehbaz Sharif and his sons as billions of rupees were deposited in their personal accounts by their frontmen like Masroor Nawar and Shoaib Qamar who as the employees of the Sharif family businesses were earning paltry amounts.

 

SAPM recalled that Mushtaq Chiniwala and his son in a similar case had turned approvers against the Sharif family. He advised Shehbaz Sharif to stay in Pakistan instead if London if he was innocent.

 

Replying to questions, he said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PTI was not against any amendment in the NAB Act for its improvement but it would never allow anyone to disrupt the process of accountability, which was central point of the party’s manifesto and Imran Khan’s slogan.