Ex-ministers skip hearing in Nandipur reference

Updated March 22, 2019


Both Asif and Qamar are prosecution witnesses named by NAB in the Nandipur reference.— AFP/File
Both Asif and Qamar are prosecution witnesses named by NAB in the Nandipur reference.— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Former federal ministers Khawaja Mohammad Asif and Syed Naveed Qamar did not appear before an accountability court on Thursday to testify against senior vice president of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and former federal minister Dr Babar Awan in the Nandipur reference.

Both Mr Asif and Mr Qamar are prosecution witnesses named by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Nandipur reference.

Mr Awan has been nominated as prime accused in this case since NAB has alleged that due to an inordinate delay in furnishing legal opinion for the Nandipur power project, the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs27 billion.

Accountability judge Mohammad Arshad Malik on Monday summoned both witnesses for recording their statements.

Besides Mr Awan, former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, former law secretary Masood Chishti, former secretary of water and power Shahid Rafi and others have been nominated as accused in this reference.

During the hearing, a NAB prosecutor informed the court that summons to the witnesses had been delivered through a process server and a report in this regard was still awaited.

At this point, Mr Awan interjected and demanded that NAB produce the witnesses.

Regarding Monday’s war of words between NAB prosecutor Usman Masood and Mr Awan’s associates, NAB deputy prosecutor general Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi told the court that NAB had no ill-intention against any accused.

He said that the accused persons were senior lawyers and being legal professionals they were respectable to the prosecution team.

He, however, insisted that the judge take measures to ensure that the prosecution could perform its job in a dignified way.

Masood Chishti, former law secretary who is an accused in this case, on the other hand said that he had been in the legal profession for over 35 years.

He said Mr Awan was among the senior most lawyers of the country and this was the reason that some young lawyers strongly objected to the prosecutor for using indecent language against Mr Awan.

Judge Malik advised both the prosecution and defence counsel to be patient and not to spoil the otherwise calm atmosphere of the courtroom.

A prosecution witness, Mohammad Naeem who is a section officer of the Ministry of Energy, produced record related to the Nandipur project.

The court examined the record and adjourned the proceedings till March 25.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019