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I will not resign over baseless allegations: Rana Mashood

11 September, 2015

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LAHORE: The Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, is reported to be weighing the option of asking the provincial sports and education minister to resign till the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) completes its investigation against him for receiving money for the party (PML-N) fund from Asim Malik, owner of a visa consultancy firm.

But Rana Mashood Ahmed says he will not resign over “baseless” allegations.

“Why should I resign on baseless allegations? This is the third time the same old allegations have been revived,” he said while talking to mediamen on Thursday. “In 2012 when I was deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly I faced these allegations and subsequently, the matter was handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) which, after going through a forensic examination of the purported video, cleared me of all the allegations.”

He added that the PML-N also had constituted a three-member committee headed by Raja Zafarul Haq and comprising Rafique Rajwana and Punjab Population Welfare Minister Zakia Shahnawaz, which absolved him of all the allegations.

Mr Ahmed claimed that this was the third time he was going through the agony of facing yet another inquiry which was an “attack on my reputation”.

He questioned the legal authority under which NAB was going to investigate this case. “When an agency (FIA) has already carried out an inquiry, under what law will NAB do the same?” he said, adding that even if the video was considered genuine, no public money was involved. However, he said he had no issue in appearing before NAB. The Punjab cabinet is reported to be divided over whether Mr Ahmed should resign. One group in the cabinet argues that the minister should resign till the investigation is over and if he is cleared of the allegations, reinstated. The other group believes that it is not a ‘grave matter’ and there is no reason for the government to be panicked. “The final decision about Mashood’s resignation, of course, lies with Shahbaz Sharif,” a source in the Punjab government told reporter.

He said that because former president Asif Ali Zardari had questioned the “accountability’s double standard” Shahbaz Sharif might not act in haste and let NAB complete its investigation.

The source claimed that NAB would first get a forensic test of the video before summoning Mr Ahmed. “At the moment it is an open and shut case as a lot more depends on forensic evidence,” he added.

In 2012, Asim Malik, the owner of visa consultancy firm Future Concern leaked a video allegedly showing Mr Ahmed negotiating with him about payment of money for party funds.

Mr Malik and his wife fled to London despite the fact that their names were on the Exit Control List. They were declared proclaimed offenders by the Lahore High Court for allegedly looting hundreds of people with a promise to send them abroad.

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