LAHORE - Sharing details of anti-corruption drive in a joint presser with Advisor to PM on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar Thursday said that recoveries to the tune of over Rs206 billion had been made in the province during the last 27 months in the anti-corruption drive initiated by the Punjab government.  

“The government took action against the powerful mafia which snatched away public resources and kept the people deprived of even the basic resources during the last 30 years”, he said, adding that the PTI government had reformed the Anti Corruption Establishment Department and the looters will not be pardoned.

Buzdar stated that the anti-corruption campaign had proved fruitful and the big fish had been brought under the net of the law. He said some critics doubted the dawn of change in the province but they must realize that Punjab has been transformed for a better tomorrow.

Giving details, the Chief Minister said: “The ACE received 51,050 complaints; it conducted 11,488 inquiries while registering 3,185 cases and arresting 3,904 criminals. 

The 27 months recovery was 532 per cent higher than the last ten years. Recoveries amounting to Rs43 crore were made in ten years but recoveries’ amount rose to well over Rs2.30 billion in the last 27 months. State lands’ recovery ratio in 27 months remained 6172 per cent higher than the last 10 years. 

State lands worth Rs2.6 billion were recovered during the last ten years but in a period of 27 months, government lands worth more than Rs181 billion have been recovered and all the money was deposited in government kitty”.  Similarly, the CM added that the ratio of retrieval of state land in the PTI government was 6,172 per cent more when compared with ten years. “During the last ten years, state land worth Rs2.6 billion was retrieved while the PTI government has recovered state lands worth more than Rs181 billion in 27 months”, he maintained. 

The Chief Minister said the government was following the policy of zero-tolerance against corruption and action has been initiated against gubernatorial cabal which remained active in loot and plunder of resources in the past, he said. 

Explaining the reasons for fewer recoveries in the past, he said the powerful people continued to occupy important posts. “They kept the institutions under their influence and also occupied the national resources”. The resources, he said, were the sacred trust of the people and the government was retrieving this trust back from the corrupt to return to the people. The recovered resources will be utilized for the public welfare and this is also a manifesto of the PTI government, he added.

Buzdar stated that people will be the direct beneficiary of this anti-corruption campaign and the resources will be utilized on different public welfare schemes. “I am also thankful to those who took part in this campaign. 

It is a national mission which will be moving forward with passion and commitment. This anti-corruption campaign will be continued in Punjab with more zeal and vigour”, he affirmed. 

Replying to the media, the CM emphasized that the corona situation is being monitored while maintaining best coordination with the federal government. 

The decisions will be made according to the situation, he said, to another question, he said the staff shortage will be overcome in ACE and recruitments will be made on vacant posts.

Advisor to PM Mirza Shahzad Akbar said the PTI led Punjab government had made ACE an autonomous institution  and consequently, its performance has improved significantly. 

He regretted the ACE was used under political influence during the last ten years but its performance improved when it was liberated from political domination by the incumbent government. “There is no past example of recoveries and retrieval of state lands as made during the 27 months as recoveries to the tune of more than Rs206 billion have been made”, he remarked, adding that the Sicilian mafia used to squatter state lands and the same had been mentioned by an honourable Supreme Court Judge in Panama Case judgment. “People, having tremendous political influence are part of this mafia and the head of Sicilian mafia is mentioned in SCP judgment”, he said, adding that the people will be the direct beneficiary of the recoveries made by ACE and the amount will be spent on Sehat Insaf Cards, Ehsaas Programme and anti-corona drive. “The same mafia which used to take benefit of such illegal activities will make hue and cry over this drive”, he added. 

The PM’s advisor said that the state and people had the first right over the state lands and Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised that they will not get any NRO in the Centre or the province. 

The looters will have to be answerable for their misdeeds, he stressed. Shahzad Akbar said that as many as 6,474 complaints had been received through the Report Corruption mobile app of the Punjab government. 

“Besides making recoveries of more than Rs2 billion, 5,196 complaints have also been resolved”. 

He termed it as a good initiative of the Punjab government and impressed upon other provinces to introduce such mobile applications adding that the federal government was ready to cooperate in this regard.

To a question, he maintained action will be taken against every looter and it was not a party-specific activity but indiscriminate action is taken against looters of the resources. “There is no doubt that influential personalities illegally used their power and authority in the past”, he said. To another question, he emphasized that besides criminal proceedings, fines will also be imposed on those, who occupied the state lands and took different benefits. 

The Multan case will be challenged in High Court, he said. To another question, he said the PTI government believed in self-accountability and action would be taken against all those who looted national resources. 

Answering another question, he disclosed that the British government had been approached for the return of Nawaz Sharif as he was an absconder and fugitive and the British government had been contacted for his extradition.