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ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday decided to file a reference against Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi over what it described as the illegal appointment of former Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) chief executive officer.

Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Mehtab Abbasi was appointed aviation adviser to then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 2017. After a few months Dr Musharraf Rasool Cyan was appointed CEO of PIA. But a year later the Supreme Court declared Dr Cyan’s appointment illegal after hearing a case filed by the PIA officers’ association challenging his appointment. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, who headed the three-member bench of the Supreme Court that gave the verdict, said at the time, “Mehtab Abbasi was a party to the appointment.”

The decisions were made in NAB’s Executive Board Meeting (EBM) that was chaired by its chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal. According to a NAB spokesman, the EBM authorised filing of corruption references against Mehtab Abbasi, Erfan Elahi, former secretary aviation division, Dr Cyan, former chairman, PIA, and Muhammad Ali Tabba. They are accused of appointing Dr Cyan in violation of rules and misusing their authority, leading to significant losses to the national exchequer.

The anti-graft watchdog also decided to further tighten the noose around leaders of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as well as against leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

In a separate decision, the meeting approved linking complaints of suspicious transactions with the ongoing investigations against PPP’s Agha Siraj Durrani, Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, MQM’s Waseem Akhtar, Karachi Mayor, PTI’s Liaquat Ali Jatoi and former federal minister and another PPP leader Nawab Mohammad Yousaf Talpur.

Other references approved at the meeting were against Haji Gulzar Khan, former health minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mohammad Zamurrad Khan, former conservator of the Gilgit forest department, Haji Nadeem Khan, Abdus Samad, Muhammad Qasim, principal medical officers and others. They are accused of illegally issuing passes to seven contractors over cutting down forest cover, inflicting Rs45.73 million losses to the national exchequer.

Another reference was approved against Kamran Ali Qureshi, former chairman of the Capital Development Authority, Asad Munir, former member estate of the authority, and Khalid Mehmood, former director estate management, for illegal restoration of a plot situated in Sector F-11.

NAB also approved conducting two inquiries against Ghulam Muhammad, former secretary of the communication and works department, Balochistan, and officers, officials of provincial highway division, Sanghar district, Sindh.

The meeting also authorised investigation against Asghar Sheikh, former director general of the Larkana Development Authority, and others.

The EBM approved closing inquiry against Dost Muhammad Rahimmo, former provincial minister for Zakat and Usher, Sindh, and others due to lack of incriminating evidence.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019