ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Transport Murad Saeed has accused former federal planning and development minister Ahsan Iqbal of receiving up to Rs70 billion commission in the Multan to Sukkur motorway project.
“In the scandal, Iqbal, frontman Javed Sadiq and the former prime minister are involved,” said the transport minister while addressing the media on Friday.
He urged the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to take action against the corrupt immediately.
“This is just the first case in many to come,” said Saeed. “I will give details of transfer of funds to Larkana, which took place during the Pakistan Peoples Party tenure.”
On Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former senior Punjab minister Aleem Khan’s arrest by NAB, the minister said, “Aleem did not say ‘why was I ousted’ [mujhe kyun nikala]”- a quote made famous by former PM Nawaz Sharif when he was ousted by the Supreme Court in the Panama Papers case in July 2017.
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“The PML-N finalised major projects for commission through their front man Sadiq and in the Multan-Sukkur Motorway project, the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs70 billion,” said the minister.
He alleged that Iqbal and Sadiq, back in 2013, inked the contract to benefit an international firm-China Estate Company.
“Sadiq was made the company director in order to obtain the contract in the bidding process,” said Saeed. “Iqbal signed the contract on behalf of the prime minister.”
He said NAB had started action on the corruption in project. “Whatever evidence is required the Ministry of Transport and the National Highway Authority will provide it,” said the minister. “Pakistan’s money was looted brutally.”
The NHA in the past few months deposited Rs4,329 million with the national exchequer, he added.
In response through a video statement, the PML-N leader said, “Murad Saeed’s needless press conference is another dangerous effort to make the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project controversial.”
Iqbal not only condemned Saeed’s statement, but saw it as utter insanity.
Expressing grave concern and disappointment, Iqbal said, “In the past, Prime Minister Imran Khan too jeopardised the entire flagship project initiative with his irresponsible and misinformed statements.”
Ahsan warned the PTI government not to spew venom against the CPEC project, urging it to stop making the corridor project controversial with their grossly miscalculated assumptions.
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He said, “This outburst is a reaction of the government’s incapacity and failure to carry out the CPEC projects. Instead of taking the criticism positively, pulling up their socks and getting to work on the projects, the intolerant and inept PTI government has started attacking the CPEC project itself with their baseless propaganda.”
Iqbal said, “The naïve PTI government doesn’t even know that the monitoring of all CPEC projects was done by independent experts from both China and Pakistan.
“This nefarious propaganda is a heinous conspiracy to damage the age-old Pakistan-China relationship. I am thoroughly appalled and disappointed that this project, which is the flag-bearer of China-Pakistan friendship has been dragged into petty political jabs to score cheap points.”
Iqbal said he would soon share the facts to rebut the false PTI propaganda against CPEC. This, he said, would expose to the people of Pakistan, the real enemy of the state who “is defiling CPEC” just to cover up their gross incompetence.
It is the same incompetence that has rendered it impossible to make ends meet for the average Pakistani because of rising inflation and utility tariff, abandoning of development projects and delaying payment of pending funds to contractors, he concluded.