Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Saturday that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was welcome to investigate any corruption case in the province. He said that if the bureau could establish corruption of even a single paisa against him during his three terms as chief minister, he would quit electoral politics for good.
He was addressing a ceremony held to make the launch of the Punjab Land Record Management Information System. He said the project had been started by his government in 1998. Work on the project was suspended when General Pervaiz Musharraf imposed martial law [in 1999] and deposed all elected governments, he said. “No government since then took the project seriously,” he said.
Sharif said a previous provincial government had spent $90 million on the project but made no substantial progress. “Has the NAB investigated the matter?” he asked. Sharif said no society could achieve progress and prosperity without effective accountability mechanisms. He said his government had extended full support to the NAB in its investigations in the province. He said he wanted to remove the misconception that the NAB was not allowed to work in the province. “I want to tell my friends in Sindh that no hue and cry was raised when the NAB opened inquiries in cases pertaining to our government,” he said.
Sharif said he was surprised why the NAB had not started investigation of scandals associated with Musharaf government. He said documentary evidence was readily available for the NAB to start some of these investigations. “I will soon disclose facts about these scandals,” he said.
Referring to his statements during a private gathering on Friday night, he said he had just complained about the NAB’s reluctance to initiate proceedings on corruption scandals associated with the Musharraf period.
He said a few revenue officers were responsible for most of the corruption in the department. “I hold no grudge against the NAB but I fail to understand why doesn’t in take action in matters where there is ample evidence of corruption,” he said. He said the NAB chairman had served as a commissioner in the province during his 1998 government.
Earlier, Sharif said computerisation of land record was a historic event in the province. He said land record centres had started working in 143 tehsils. Land record of 23,000 villages had already been computerised, he said.
Sharif said computerisation would minimise irregularities in the management of land records. He said the new system would help end disputes and need for litigation over these disputes. “We have rid the province of the patwari culture,” he said.
Sharif said if needed legislation would be introduced in the assembly to further strengthen the computerised system.
He said at the newly established land record centres owners would be able to obtain their property deeds within 30 minutes of their application. Transfer of property would be completed in a 50-minute period, he said.
Sharif said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had first started a pilot project towards the end in a Kasur tehsil in 1997. He said so far five million errors in land record had been fixed with the help of the new system. As many as 100 revenue officials found involved in corruption had been removed from service, he added. Referring to computerisation of land record in another province, he said the World Bank representatives had only approved of the land record management system developed by his government. The Supreme Court of Pakistan had also commended Punjab’s land record project and recommended it as a model for other provinces.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Rs12 billion had been spent on the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2016.
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