ISLAMABAD: In their separate remarks, both the chief justice of Pakistan and the chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog said on Sunday that they didn’t have anything to do with the July 25 elections.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said he was not facilitating anyone in the elections while National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal rejected allegations of pre-poll rigging levelled by some political parties.
“I am not running the campaign of any political party,” CJP Nisar said during a visit to the under-construction 400-bed Rawalpindi Child and Mother Hospital (RCMH) he paid at the request of Awami Muslim League (AML) president Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
The CJP said he was visiting Rawalpindi to check the facilities available in the hospital, adding that he was neither invited by anyone nor running the election campaign of anyone.
“I have not taken a contract to launch the election campaign of any party,” he said when a reporter asked him why he had visited the hospital in Sheikh Rashid’s constituency at his request during electioneering.
Justice Nisar says he is running nobody’s campaign; NAB chairman refutes allegations of pre-poll rigging
Earlier, the chief justice heard a case about the RCMH in the Supreme Court. Soon after the hearing, Mr Rashid requested him to visit the site of the under-construction hospital, saying that the project, which had been lying abandoned since 2006, could be revived if he visited it.
Although the CJP, after receiving a briefing on the hospital project presented by the National Engineering Service officials, had said that there was no need to visit the site, soon after the hearing he ordered for his motorcade to proceed to Rawalpindi to inspect the hospital site.
During Chief Justice Nisar’s visit, the AML chief said the hospital was being constructed due to his efforts and he wanted to rename it after the CJP.
The chief justice did not agree with the idea and said he did not want the hospital to be named after him.
“Sheikh Sahib, you are doing a great job, I don’t want to get it named after me,” he said.
“Sir, you have undertaken a noble cause of reviving the hospital project. May God bless you with my life as well,” Mr Rashid responded.
During the hearing of the case, the petitioner, Mr Rashid, said that the Rs5 billion RCMH project was launched during former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf’s regime in 2005 but only Rs100m had so far been spent on it. He said work on the project had stopped since 2006 as none of the successive governments had paid attention to it.
The AML president requested the chief justice to order that the project be completed in two years. The CJP ordered that it must be completed in 18 months for which funds would be provided on a regular basis. “If you do not receive money from the government, the Supreme Court will provide it to you,” the CJ assured those responsible for executing the project.
The chief justice also directed the authorities concerned to sit under the roof of the apex court and settle all issues confronting the project.
The RCMH is being constructed at the site of decades-old Tuberculosis Hospital on Eidgah Road, commonly known as TB Hospital. The project was launched by the establishment division of the federal government but after devolution of power under 18th Amendment, it was handed over to Punjab. Initially, Punjab government refused to take over the project and meanwhile its scope of work enhanced and 14 operations theatres were proposed instead of two. Therefore the issue was against referred to the federal government for approvals and provision of more funds.
In April 2018, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government revised the project as its cost escalated from Rs2.5bn to Rs5bn.
During the visit of the hospital site, the chief justice reprimand the Pakistan Public Works Department’s chief engineer saying the entire structure would be destroyed if the work was not resumed soon.
He lamented that the hospital’s construction had been delayed for 10 years and vowed that further delay in this regard would not be tolerated.
The chief justice said that the Supreme Court would monitor the construction work.
The RMCH project was inaugurated on April 8, 2005 by then prime minister Shaukat Aziz after approval of the project by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council. It was a joint project of the centre and the Punjab government on the basis of equal sharing.
But work on the project came to a halt soon after the formation of the PML-N government in Punjab in March 2008.
According to the project details, the hospital will also house a nursing school and a chest diseases centre to deal with cases of TB and breast cancer.
Meanwhile, NAB chairman Javed Iqbal said that allegations of pre-poll rigging had been levelled by some people against the bureau to tarnish the image and credibility of the top anti-graft institution.
According to an official statement issued by the bureau on Sunday, he said the bureau was working in accordance with law and it would continue to perform its duties as per its mandate.
“The allegations of alleged rigging before elections have been levelled just to tarnish the image and credibility of NAB,” the statement quoted retd Justice Iqbal as saying, adding that such charges could not deter NAB’s firm resolve and commitment to eradicating corruption from society.
“NAB does not believe in any victimisation and it is committed to nabbing corrupt, proclaimed offenders and absconders with iron hands by using all its resources. The whole nation has pinned hopes on NAB for eradication of corruption from the country and the bureau will come up to expectations of the nation,” the NAB chief said.
Retd Justice Iqbal directed all directors general of the bureau not to spare any corrupt person and bring all of them to justice.
He also directed all NAB staff members to work hard and in a transparent way to ensure no injustice was done to anyone “due to NAB’s effective policy, the bureau has arrested 350 accused over the last seven months and has recovered about Rs2.2 billion which is a record achievement with an overall conviction rate of 77 per cent,” retd Justice Iqbal said.