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NAB summons Pervaiz Ashraf in Gepco case

Updated May 25, 2016

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LAHORE: The National Accountability Bureau, Lahore, has summoned former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the case of ‘illegal hiring’ in the Gujranwala Electric Power Company (Gepco).

The Pakistan People’s Party has termed it a move of the PML-N governmment to pressure it (PPP) and Mr Ashraf to stop demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the Panamagate.

A NAB notice said: “The competent authority has taken cognizance of an offence committed by you under the provisions of National Accountability Ordinance 1999. The investigation against Tahir Basharat Cheema, ex-MD Pepco, and others has revealed that you are in possession of information/evidence which relates to the commission of offence committed by you during the recruitment in Gepco.”

The NAB asked Mr Ashraf to appear in person before an investigation officer for “confrontation of other accused persons/record and recording of your statement”.

The NAB has already arrested Tahir Basharat Cheema, Ibrahim Majoka, ex-CEO and Hashmat Ali Kazmi, former HR director of Gepco on allegations of ‘misuse of authority’. They are on physical remand in the NAB custody.

Cheema is also accused of misuse of authority. During his stint as Pepco MD, he allegedly disregarded, disobeyed and deviated from the recruitment rules and made some 500 illegal appointments in Gepco.

Through his counsel, Pervaiz Ashraf expressed his inability to appear in person before the NAB investigation officer saying he was ‘not feeling well’.

His legal team headed by advocate Iftikhar Shahid has moved an application against the NAB demanding details about the allegations against the former premier. “The NAB’s notice is incomplete showing it has been issued in haste on someone’s direction,” Mr Shahid said.

Talking to Dawn, he expressed his surprise over the NAB’s notice which was devoid of any detail about the ‘wrongdoings’ the former premier had committed. “How can NAB issue a notice without explaining the detail of the charges it has against the former prime minister,” he said.

He said his team had also asked NAB to attach some ‘documentary evidence’ in its summons before calling the former prime minister.

Talking about the recruitment of lower cadre employees in Gepco, the counsel said Mr Ashraf had not asked, written or verbal, anyone to hire people in Gepco. “Mr Ashraf believes it is political victimization after he started demanding resignation of Nawaz Sharif over Panamagate,” advocate Shahid said, adding nothing had been proved in charges against him (Ashraf) in the rental power projects. NAB Lahore DG reired Maj Burhan Ali was approached for his comments whether the NAB intended to make Mr Cheema approver against Mr Ashraf but he did not return Dawn’s query.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2016