Shahbaz seeks across-the-board accountability

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LAHORE: Complaining about “singling out” the Sharifs in the accountability process, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif cautions that the country will not function in this manner.

“The accountability should be across the board and not of just one family as mega corruption scandals in Ogra, Punjab Bank, NICL, Nandipur, and Swiss Bank accounts are being ignored,” Shahbaz said while responding to a question during ‘Patient Referral Ambulance Service’ ceremony at his Model Town office here on Tuesday.

In a characteristic outburst against the Opposition going for the ruling party’s jugular, the chief minister indirectly admitted lapses in efforts to overcome the loadshedding problem by declaring his pre-election promise a “mistake”.

“I had talked about solving the loadshedding issue within six months but it was a separate matter altogether as one may say something by mistake,” he said.

As for accountability, the prime minister’s son Hussain Nawaz and some government functionaries and party leaders had questioned the impartiality of the team probing the Panama Papers case. PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi, at a party meeting in Karachi, had even threatened the investigators that they and their families would face dire consequences for probing the Sharifs.

Shahbaz said the Supreme Court orders in some of the corruption cases were also not being implemented and had [a] JIT worked like this on the Swiss accounts, the money might have been transferred back to the country.

He said the Sharifs were robbed of all belongings in the name of nationalisation in 1972 and then the late Benazir Bhutto ruined their businesses and “how much more you want to hold (the Sharifs) accountable.”

He requested the apex court to order an across-the-board accountability otherwise, he warned, “the country wouldn’t function.”

With reference to appearance of Hussain Nawaz’s picture (on the media), he said Hussain had not committed corruption of a penny but he was subjected to such a treatment.

Objecting to “partiality” of the ongoing accountability process, he said the accountability could be stricter but it must not smack of “victimisation”.

He regretted that the “plunderers” of national wealth and resources of widows and orphans and “usurpers” of bank loans were lecturing others about corruption.

About the closure of recently opened Bhikkhi power plant, the chief minister sarcastically said it would soon become operational again as it had not been deposited with the Swiss accounts.

AMBULANCE SERVICE: The chief minister said all public-sector ambulances in the province had been put at the disposal of Rescue 1122 after the death of Zehra Bibi, who had been financially exploited by driver of an official ambulance. He announced amending the relevant law for deducting salary of any driver (of state-run ambulance) who would charge any patient. The free ambulance service, he said, would be available in the 36 districts of Punjab and its access would be enhanced to rural health centres and basic health units.

Shahbaz used the occasion to enumerate other initiatives his government had taken in the health sector. He said handling of CT Scan machines across the province was being given to the manufacturers of the machines which would provide free round-the-clock service to the poor patients. The step, he said, would help overcome the complaint that faults were deliberately developed in the official machines to make room for the business of private CT Scan operators.

Hepatitis clinics would start functioning in the province by September while the Kidney and Liver Transplant Institute would become operational on Dec 25 this year.

He said 15 new mobile health units would soon reach Punjab while orders for 100 more units had been placed with the companies concerned. He hoped that outlook of buildings of state-run hospitals as well as attitude of their staff would also change with the initiatives being introduced by the government.

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