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LAHORE: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar has said that the difference between the Musharraf regime was that the former military dictator had given two NROs to the PML-N and the PPP, while the manifesto of the ruling PTI, particularly Prime Minister Imran Khan, is that of not giving any such concession to the ‘corrupt elites’ and it will do anything to stop them from using their political clout.

“Today, there is no difference between the PML-N and the PPP, and their only mission is corruption. In the past, these parties got NROs behind closed doors. However, the PTI government broke this status quo after coming into power,” the premier’s aide said while addressing a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday. He said when the PTI invited both the parties over the FATF laws, the opposition instead of showing interest in public matters demanded removal/change of 34 sections out of 38 sections, especially one related to money laundering of the NAB ordinance.

“During the last decade, the NAB had recovered only Rs 100 billion while in the last two years the anti-graft watchdog recovered Rs 390 billion. Similarly, the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Punjab has also recovered Rs 206 billion in the last two years as compared to Rs 3 billion in the last 10 years,” he said, adding that “this happens when NRO is not given to the corrupt elite and these are the benefits the PTI government is giving to the people”.

The SAPM said the premier’s tweets on the Broadsheet LLC issue should be seen in border perspective as the political elite use their clout to get NRO-like concession by making hue and cry of “victimisation”. He said the PTI wants “total transparency” of this matter for which the federal cabinet had constituted a ministerial committee to dig out facts on “when and who” gave NROs to political elites. It is totally another debate whether the Broadsheet had done its work or not helped the NAB, Shahzad said, adding that the thing that matters who were the people the Broadsheet was investigating.

Akbar said it was not the PTI that had prepared and provided a list of political elites to the Broadsheet containing nearly 200 names. He said the name of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was on top of the list. According to Shahzad, the PML-N and the PPP always succeeded in getting NROs.

“The PML-N (Nawaz Sharif) first got NRO from Musharraf and flew to Saroor Palace (Jeddah),” he said, asking why don’t you tell people what was that deal and what were the things that had been forgiven under it. “Why doesn’t Shahbaz Sharif tell people how the Hudaibiya Paper Mills case got compromised and he was acquitted?” he asked.

The second NRO was given to Benazir Bhutto after which she came to the country, he added.

He alleged that both these parties had done massive corruption and laundered money during their tenures. One such example is of “Khadim-e-Ala Punjab'', Shahbaz Sharif, who is in NAB custody facing corruption reference to the tune of Rs 7.5 billion, he added.

Responding to PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb’s criticism, the SAPM mocked the PML-N leadership for always celebrating their victory before time which ultimately brings embarrassment to them. In 2009, he said, the Broadsheet LLC went into arbitration and that time Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) was in power. In 2016, the Broadsheet got the award in its favour and the PML-N was in power at that time, he said, adding that the office of Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) handles all the international arbitrations. He asked who the AGP was at that period and which law firm was hired by the PML-N to handle this issue.

He said the allegation of Broadsheet CEO Kaveh Mousavi against the PML-N leadership offering him bribe through a nephew of Nawaz to drop the investigations should be probed. He said that Anjum Dar is actually the PML-N’s Germany President.

About the media reports that one of the PTI members had demanded his cut in a meeting with Kaveh Mousavi in 2018 for the arbitration settlement, the premier’s advisor refuted such reports and challenged the PML-N leadership to move to a London court against Mousavi if they had not offered him a bribe.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021