Officials of the country’s top anti-graft body on Wednesday questioned Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in connection with their investigation into the illegal issuing of a liquor licence to a hotel in Lahore.
A combined investigation team of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) then directed Buzdar to submit his response to their queries by August 18.
The Punjab chief minister reached the anti-corruption body’s Thokar Niazbaig provincial headquarters without his security motorcade.
A day earlier, the Punjab chief minister had said he would appear before NAB alone in his personal capacity, unlike PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz who had reached the anti-graft body’s office accompanied by hundreds of part activists and supporters that triggered a clash between then and police.
Buzdar, who was issued a call-up notice for allegedly receiving Rs50 million to force the excise and taxation department to illegally issue a liquor licence to a hotel, spent around two hours at the NAB office.
The hotel, which is under construction near the Lahore airport, had applied to the excise and taxation department for an L-2 liquor licence.
However, it did not first obtain a 4/5 star rating from the Punjab Tourist Services Department required under the Pakistan Hotels and Restaurant Act 1976.
In 2009, the chief minister’s office had issued a policy under which an L-2 liquor licence could only be issued to hotels having a 4/5 star rating.
However, the excise and taxation department issued licence to the hotel near the Lahore airport in 2019 in violation of the 2009 policy as it had not acquired a 4/5 star rating from the provincial tourist services department.
According to NAB sources, the licence was issued to the hotel despite the excise and taxation department referring the matter to the chief minister’s office thrice, informing Buzdar that the move was in violation of the 2009 policy.
The sources said the chief minister’s office willfully failed to exercise lawful authority to prevent the issuance of illegal L-2 licence to the hotel despite having the knowledge about the sensitivity of the matter.
According to NAB, a sum of Rs50million was given as bribe to issue the licence.
NAB has also summoned three lawmakers of the ruling PTI from Punjab for questioning in separate cases.
It has summoned Punjab Labour and Human Resource Minister Ansar Majeed Khan Niazi on August 19 for its investigation into illegal appointments and transfer and postings in the Punjab Employees Social Security Institution.
It has also summoned MNA Malik Karamat Ali Khokhar and MPA Ghazanfar Abbas Chheena on August 13 and August 17 respectively to question them for allegedly possessing assets beyond known sources of income.
Khokhar has been asked to submit details of his moveable and immoveable assets.
Apart from Chheena, officials of Revenue Department Bhakkar have also been issued notices.
NAB has asked the three PTI lawmakers to appear before a combined investigation team at its provincial headquarters.