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NAB closes land lease inquiry against Saad Rafique


LAHORE:

The country’s top anti-graft authority – the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) – has decided to close an inquiry initiated against PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique for allegedly leasing railways land to his favourites during his term as the federal railways minister from 2013 till 2018.

NAB had started the probe in 2018 on basis of a complaint that alleged that Rafique leased pieces of railways land at Lahore’s Walton Road and the UED for 33 years to extend illegal benefits to some blue-eyed contractors. It claimed that the Pakistan Railways officials had also not verified the leasing process.

According to sources, the graft buster could not find evidence to substantiate the claim of favouritism as the pieces of lands were leased to the companies which had offered the highest bids.

During Rafique’s term as minister, 12 plots of railways were leased to different oil marketing companies. In Bhalwal, a plot was leased to a Rawalpindi based company. In Rahim Yar Khan, the Pakistan Railways leased a commercial plot to the Jam brothers.

The decision to close the inquiry was taken at a regional board meeting. The recommendations have now been forwarded to NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal.

However, the NAB spokesperson has reportedly denied the media reports of closure of an inquiry against the PML-N leader and termed the media reports “fake”.

In December 2018, NAB had arrested Saad Rafique and his brother Salman Rafique in connection with a probe into the Paragon Housing Society case. NAB had accused the Rafiques and other accused of establishing an illegal housing society and embezzling its funds for personal gains.

The Supreme Court in March this year granted bail to the PML-N leaders and in its detailed verdict issued on July 20 noted that the accountability laws were being used in the country to change political loyalties.

“Pygmies were selected, nurtured, promoted, and brought to prominence and power. People with notorious backgrounds and criminal credentials were thrust to rule us in various capacities with predictable results,” said the written order issued by a three-judge bench.



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