LAHORE - Rejecting all allegations regarding transfer of 17 million dollars to China in respect of Multan Metro train project, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday challenged his detractors saying that either they should prove the charges or remain silent.

“Put up or shut up”, he asked his opponents while addressing a news conference at his Model Town office.

Chief Minister asserted that there was no truth in media reports about alleged transfer of 17 million dollars to China in the Multan Metro Bus project accusing a private television channel of hatching propaganda against him.

Shehbaz announced to serve a legal notice on a private TV channel and PPP Senator Aitzaz Ashen if they did not retreat from their false claims within 48 hours. He denied existence of the alleged Capital Engineering and Construction Company terming it a poor attempt to defame his office and to undermine his achievements.

He said that nine contractors who completed the project had testified that they had not given any sub-contract to any company. He said the alleged letter of appreciation for the Chinese company allegedly written by him was also fake. “I never use capital words in my letters,” he said. 

The chief minister also said national interests and relations with China had been compromised through such baseless allegations, adding that such people were setting a bad example for the young generation as well, besides making an attempt to malign the country.

He said that Multan metro project was being subjected to an unwarranted criticism making false claims that certain companies were given contracts by receiving kickbacks.

He deplored that friendly countries were also being maligned through baseless allegations.

The chief minister said that he had served the people with honesty and dedication and his detractors could not deter his resolve to serve with their false and baseless allegations. “The more adverse is the criticism, the more stimulated I feel to serve the masses who elected me to this office,” he affirmed.

Presenting himself for ruthless accountability, the chief minister said that people could hang him in the open if misappropriation of a single penny proved against him. According to him, the allegations were leveled by those who were involved in getting loans worth billions of rupees written-off in the past.

Shehbaz said he was accountable to the Punjab Assembly and 11 crore people of the province.

The chief minister lashed out at PTI leader Jahangir Tareen and claimed that Tareen had got bank loans written-off in the past and bought properties in London. He said he would not sit idle until this public money was recovered and returned to the poor and the orphan of the country.

The chief minister said ‘so-called Mr Clean’ had emptied the Bank of Punjab (BoP) through bank loans on fake identity cards in the past and loans worth 256 billion rupees were written off.

Shehbaz questioned if all the politicians whose names had appeared in the Panama Papers had been investigated.

About PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the chief minister said that he was in the habit of making false accusations against his political adversaries. “He could never substantiate his allegations of 70 billion rupees allegedly incurred on the Metro Bus Service,” he added.

Shehbaz also came down hard on former PPP Minister Babar Awan accusing him of amassing billions of rupees through corrupt practices. He said the apex court had declared that Awan was responsible for delay in the Nandipur Power Project, but no action was taken against him.  

He also mentioned EOBI scam involving its former head Zafar Gondal and the NICL scandal, saying that the accused were still at large. 

To a question about introduction of defamation law in the province, the chief minister said the government would consider introducing such a law so that innocent people could be saved from allegations, adding that politicians were regarded as thick-skinned people and must face criticism boldly.

Answering a question, he said his government had not utilized any aid from the US government after 2010, adding that he had reduced the load-shedding to the minimum.

He said he would not sit idle until this public money was recovered and returned to the poor and the orphan of the country.

The chief minister said ‘so-called Mr Clean’ had emptied the Bank of Punjab (BoP) through bank loans on fake identity cards in the past and loans worth 256 billion rupees were written off.

Shehbaz questioned if all the politicians whose names had appeared in the Panama Papers had been investigated.

About PTI Chairman Imran Khan, the chief minister said that he was in the habit of making false accusations against his political adversaries. “He could never substantiate his allegations of 70 billion rupees allegedly incurred on the Metro Bus Service,” he added.

Shehbaz also came down hard on former PPP Minister Babar Awan accusing him of amassing billions of rupees through corrupt practices. He said the apex court had declared that Awan was responsible for delay in the Nandipur Power Project, but no action was taken against him.  

He also mentioned EOBI scam involving its former head Zafar Gondal and the NICL scandal, saying that the accused were still at large. 

To a question about introduction of defamation law in the province, the chief minister said the government would consider introducing such a law so that innocent people could be saved from allegations, adding that politicians were regarded as thick-skinned people and must face criticism boldly.

Answering a question, he said his government had not utilized any aid from the US government after 2010, adding that he had reduced the load-shedding to the minimum.