Buzdar denies role in liquor license issuance

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By Ali Imran

ISLAMABAD: Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Tuesday furnished the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) with his response to the questionnaire handed to him by the bureau in a liquor license case.
The chief minister through the Advocate General submitted the four-page reply to the bureau, which was prepared in light of 17 questions put to him by the national graft buster in connection with its ongoing inquiry against him for allegedly receiving Rs50 million to get a liquor license issued to a hotel.
CM Buzdar stated that he played no role in the issuance of the liquor license in question, nor did he do anything wrong in this regard. He said the Excise and Taxation director-general has powers to issue liquor licenses.
A total of eleven licenses were issued, out which nine were issued by the director-general himself, he said, adding the then Punjab governor issued licenses in 2000 and 2001. He said he had rejected a summary sent to him by Excise and Taxation Director General Akram Gondal for issuance of a license over the want of powers. Gondalsent another summary to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat after issuing the license but the chief minister’s principal secretary sent back the summary for having been sent to an irrelevant forum, he said, adding the excise and taxation minister then suspended the liquor license of the hotel but a single bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) later ordered the restoration of the license in 2019.
An intra-court appeal against the verdict is pending disposal, Buzdar explained, adding not a single liquor bottle was sold on the license of the hotel that has also applied for its renewal. The allegations leveled against him are baseless, he maintained.