Islamabad: The government has allocated millions of funds for unapproved projects to win support of some politicians to thwart the opposition’s plan to oust prime minister on corruption charges in the wake of Panama leaks, the documents obtained by News Lens Pakistan reveal.

Earlier this year, around eleven million documents, leaked by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, pointed out that hundreds of world leaders and celebrities were running offshore companies. The leaks allege that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his sons Hussain Nawaz, and Hassan Nawaz and daughter Maryam Safdar have four offshore companies in British Virgin Islands.

Opposition leaders have been holding series of meetings to reach consensus to oust the prime minister either through in-house change or a movement.

After the scandal, Prime Minister Sharif for the first time in May this year appeared in the National Assembly and announced formation of a parliamentary committee to work out Terms of Reference (ToRs) to probe into the issue.

However, opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah rejected the prime minister’s offer.

The documents obtained by News Lens Pakistan show the department concerned has allocated millions of rupees’ funds for special projects for some politicians such as Maulana Fazalur Rehman, chief of Jamiat Ulema e Islam- F, for his support to the beleaguered prime minister.

The documents say the amount is mostly earmarked for unspecified projects in Swat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan, the hometowns of political heavyweights such as PML-N leader Amir Muqqam, Housing Minister Akram Khan Durrani and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal-u-Rehman.
Of total estimated cost of Rs 500 million, an amount of Rs 50 million would be released for establishment of Women Sub-Campus of Swat University in Mingora but if PC-1 (project cycle 1) of the project is approved.

The documents further reveal, “Out of the estimated cost of Rs 500 million, an amount of Rs 50 million would be released for Gomal University and Agriculture University in Dera Ismail Khan for the year 2016-17 in case PC-1 of the project is approved.”

An estimated cost of Rs 500 million for up-gradation of Bannu University of Science and Technology Lakki Marwat Campus to a full fledge university of which Rs 100 million would be released for the current year.

For up-gradation of Hazara University Campus at Havelian to a complete university Rs. 100 million would be released against the complete cost of Rs 819 million for the year 2016-17.
Opposition parties specifically Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has mounted pressure on the prime minister to step down after his name appeared in the scam.

Nihal Hashmi, a lawmaker of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said it is out of question that the prime minister would step down.

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a leader of international stature and leaders of his kinds born once in a century,” he added.

Earlier, Rehman accompanied Sharif for his visit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the latter held big public gatherings to demonstrate his political power.

During the visit, Sharif announced mega projects such as extension of Bannu International Airport, University branch in Lakki Marwat, up gradation of Dera. Ismail. Khan Airport to the status of international and a special package for farmers.

According to documents, an amount of Rs 200 million has been earmarked for unspecified development schemes in Dera Ismail Khan, which are neither approved by Central Development Working Party (CDWP) located at Planning and Development Division, Planning Commission, a clearing house for any provincial project, nor by Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC).

It is the democratic right of the opposition to hold peaceful demonstrations, Hashmi said, warning but no one would be allowed to mount attacks either on parliament or sabotage national installations.

“We want all political parties reach consensus on ToRs but the PTI stance is based on personal vendetta against PML-N,” he reiterated.

Arif Alvi, a PTI stalwart, said that he is shocked to learn about that kind of “political inducement.”

The amounts have been allocated for vague projects in a bid to win political favour of Rehman in the wake of opposition pressure on premier, Alvi alleged.

Political experts said Panama Leaks scandal has jolted the nation where corruption is on rampant.

Mansoor Akbar Kundi, a political analyst, said, “This is called marriage of convenience and favoritism.”

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) received millions of leaked documents from the Panama based law related firm indicting thousands of lawmakers, politicians and others in fraudulent including 220 Pakistanis.

A detailed paper compiled by “Pakistan Economic and Social Review” states that good governance flourishes in a necessarily corruption free situation. “Pakistan is unfortunately way down on the ladder on this account,” it stated.

In a statement, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), said, “Corruption is really a poison and we must put it down with an iron hand.” NAB is Pakistan’s apex anti-corruption organization.

Chaudhry said that NAB has recovered Rs 276 billion since its inception in 1999, which have been deposited in the national exchequer.

Maulana Attau Rehman, a member of National Assembly and brother of Rehman, told News Lens Pakistan, “It’s not a matter of Panama Leaks rather we’ve been supporting the prime minister soon after formation of his government.”

He said that allegations regarding getting funds for supporting Sharif are totally wrong, baseless and concocted.

Qamar Zaman Kaira, a senior PPP’s leader says the opposition has a simple demand from the prime minister to form a commission and investigate the matter. “PPP with joint opposition will adopt a strategy to build maximum pressure on the government to earnestly probe the matter.”


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