ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Thursday turned down a request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) seeking custody of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail and former managing director of the Pakistan State Oil Sheikh Imranul Haq in the LNG terminal case and sent them to Adiala jail on 14-day judicial remand.
Mr Abbasi filed in the court a statement claiming that because of his affiliation with an opposition party, NAB had arrested him in the case without ascertaining the facts that the terminal had saved Rs1 trillion public money.
In a brief encounter with reporters, the PML-N senior leader demanded that the trial of his case be broadcast live on television.
In his statement, Mr Abbasi said he was arrested on July 18 “without original warrant of arrest” in connection with an investigation into “the construction and operation of M/s Elengy Terminal Pakistan Limited and alleged misuse of authority…causing loss to the national exchequer of an approximate amount exceeding Rs1.54 billion”.
Accountability court sends ex-PM, Miftah, former PSO chief to jail on 14-day judicial remand
“I will go on to say that compared to power generation with furnace oil this terminal has saved the government of Pakistan over Rs1 trillion,” he said.
“I stand before you as an accused and detenu, and after 70 days NAB is still investigating my ‘crimes’. Is this justice?” the former premier asked judge Mohammad Bashir.
“This was all simply to pressurise, threaten, coerce, intimidate, vilify and make some case, any case! Is this accountability, or victimisation, politically vendetta and misuse of government institution or intimidating and demonising political opponents into submission and settling scores?” he asked in the statement.
Referring to a statement of Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, he said: “What is transpiring in Pakistan today is a fact of political engineering through NAB that the Chief Justice of Pakistan talked about…the practice here has become that if the government is afraid of somebody then start a media trial against him, set up an inquiry/investigation, threaten to file NAB case, malign him, arrest him, insult his character and integrity, take away his liberty and dignity and start looking for the cases.”
Mr Abbasi stated that for the last 20 years “only one politician, former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, has been convicted by accountability court. It happened in the court next door to this court. The facts of the conviction/decision have been taken cognizance of by the august Supreme Court of Pakistan after serious incontrovertible evidence of improper conduct of the learned judge surfaced.”
He praised Miftah Ismail and Imranul Haq and said “both the gentlemen are Pakistan’s outstanding economist and corporate executives…Their only crime is that they have not become approvers against me and have refused to sell their souls — thus those who were viewed as easy targets have withstood, and proven, the test of character”.
About allegations of corruption and corrupt practices levelled by NAB in a press statement issued on his arrest, Mr Abbasi said: “I say if I am corrupt, I must have taken money from somebody. The LNG terminal [M/s Elengy] project did not involve any government funds. Thus, who paid money, and to whom, and to what end?
“It is a case of misuse of authority! The question is what is the job of a government minister, or a prime minister I have held both positions. It is to make policies and then to implement them. I say on full authority that I take full responsibility for all decisions in my tenure, and there was neither any wrongdoing, nor connivance with government functionaries, to commit fraud or engage in illegal practices.”
Mr Abbasi said in the statement that the cost of the LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal in question was “the lowest in the world” and it was the only LNG terminal in the world operating at 100 per cent capacity. Hence, the question to be asked is that what is the loss to the national exchequer?
“NAB investigation falls well short of establishing any case of an offence having been committed by me, or causing loss to the national exchequer, and warrants immediate dismissal, with cost/damage for the loss of my liberty, prestige, freedom, inquiry to my ‘self’ and my family, my reputation, my honor and my dignity,” Mr Abbasi concluded.
Ahsan in NAB office
Former planning and development minister Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday appeared before the NAB authorities at its Rawalpindi regional headquarters, in connection with the Narowal Sports City (NSC) case and submitted details of his income and expenditures.
The PML-N leader had already submitted his reply to a questionnaire given by anti-graft watchdog in the case in which he is accused of utilising funds of the federal government and the Pakistan Sports Board for the sports city being established in his hometown of Narowal.
Talking to Dawn, Mr Iqbal claimed that he had nothing to do with the case as the project had been launched in 2009 during the PPP government when he was not a federal minister.
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2019