Thursday Nov 19 2020
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Narowal Sports City project: NAB files corruption reference against Ahsan Iqbal

PML-N leader and former federal minister Ahsan Iqbal. File photo

RAWALPINDI: A corruption reference was filed against PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal and others in the Narowal Sports City project by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday.

The former planning and development minister is accused of misusing his authority to illegally enhance the scope of the project from Rs34.75 million to Rs2,994 million approximately.

NAB says the sports city project was conceived on the instruction of Iqbal without any feasibility in 1999. This project was first called the Sports Stadium Narowal. It was initially approved at a cost of Rs34.74 million by the Central Development Working Party (CDWP), which Iqbal headed.

The News reported that Iqbal illegally directed the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and NESPAK to increase the project's scope, enhancing the cost to Rs97.52 million.

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Land for the project was personally identified by Iqbal, according to the reference. He gave specific khasra nos to the PSB to acquire the land identified by him.

PSB later shelved the project in the same year on the instructions of the planning and development ministry. The reason provided was that it did not have the requisite weightage with respect to economic necessity.

In 2009, the project was restarted and approved at a cost of Rs732 million. It was, however, devolved to Punjab government in 2011 after the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

When Iqbal became the planning minister in 2013, he illegally directed officials of his ministry to include the NSC project in the PSDP 2013-14, which was not included in the draft of the PSDP 2013-14 as it was a devolved project and was also reflected in the Annual Development Program 2013-14, the anti-graft body said in the reference.

He has been accused of hijacking a provincial project in violation of the 18th Constitutional Amendment and CCI decision dated 28.04.2011 with ulterior motives by misusing his authority. NAB says the former minister made "wasteful expenditures" from the federal government exchequer.

The report by The News also says that Iqbal, from 2012-13 to 2016-17, diverted about 90% of the sports funds of the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination to his constituency to cement his political position.

In 2012-13, Rs41 million were allocated to the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination for sports infrastructure and no funds were allocated for the Narowal Sports Complex.

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In the fiscal year 2013-14, Rs338 million were allocated. Out of this, Rs200 million were allocated for the Narowal Sports Complex.

Later, in fiscal year 2014-15, Rs843 million were allocated to the ministry and Rs730 million were kept aside for the sports complex.

The process was followed in 2015-16, when Rs463 million were allocated to the ministry an Rs450 million were kept aside.

During 2016-17, the ministry got Rs729 million, out of which Rs715 million were given to the Narowal Sports complex.

Shahbaz Sharif’s daughter, son-in-law named in Saaf Pani case

Another reference against PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif's daughter Rabia Imran, son-in-law Ali Imran Yousaf and former Punjab Saaf Paani Company South CEO Waseem Ajmal was also filed by the anti-graft body.

They, too, have been accused of misusing authority which caused a loss of Rs24.7 million to the national exchequer.

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NAB's executive board had earlier approved filing a supplementary reference against Ajmal, Yousaf, who is the CEO Ali and Fatima Developers, on acquiring an under-construction building (Ali Trade Centre) on rent by abusing authority, which caused a loss of Rs24.7 million to the national exchequer.

Yousaf is already a proclaimed offender in this case while Imran is likely to be declared a proclaimed offender in a money laundering reference against the Shehbaz family.

Fatima Developers is a company owned by Yousaf and his wife Imran.

In 2018, an accountability court had declared Yousaf an absconder for receiving graft money from Punjab Power Development Company CEO Ikram Naveed.

The NAB said Naveed had confessed to giving the monetary benefit worth Rs132 million to Imran.

Naveed bought three floors worth Rs132 million in the Ali Trade Centre, the reference said, adding that Ikram, his wife Samina and son Farjad, bought two complete commercial floors and a complete penthouse floor in Ali Trade Centre.

More than Rs60 million were transferred from the accounts of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority to the accounts of Ali and Fatima Developers.

Imran has also been accused of allegedly minting more than Rs100 million of government money through the under-construction Ali Trade Centre.