ISLAMABAD: Former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal on Monday called for Imran Khan to be implicated in the Narowal Sports City (NSC) case, alleging that ever since the prime minister stopped releasing funds, the cost of the project increased manifold.
Also, on Monday, the accountability court extended physical remand of Mr Iqbal for another week.
Mr Iqbal was talking to the media after he was produced by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), which arrested him in December 2019 for alleged corruption in the project, before accountability judge Azam Khan at the judicial complex in Islamabad.
In his application to the accountability court, he wrote that the project was first of its kind and was aimed at providing an integrated sports training facility in Narowal. Furthermore, he stated, “I feel I didn’t commit any crime by supporting a landmark sports infrastructure project for our young sporting talent to be trained at world-class facilities”.
The senior PML-N leader further stated that the crime was to stop the release of funds “at the behest of PM Imran Khan as Rs400 million required to complete the project was withheld and which will now require billions of rupees due to cost escalation”.
He called for Mr Khan and “his accomplices be charged for sabotaging a national-level project and causing colossal loss to the national exchequer”.
Prosecutor Usman Mirza objected to the filing of the application, claiming that the accountability court was not the relevant forum to seek such type of relief.
Earlier, during the proceedings, the prosecution contended before the court that the NSC project was begun without conducting the mandatory feasibility study.
Moreover, Mr Mirza said that after the 18th Constitution Amendment, the sports ministry had been devolved and was no longer a federal government subject and that the former federal interior and planning minister had misused his authority by releasing funds for the project which was supposed to be completed by the provincial government.
The former minister’s lawyer, Barrister Zafarullah, argued that NAB never said in its reference that Mr Iqbal received any financial benefit from this project. Moreover, the lawyer argued that under the recent amendment to the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, misuse of authority was not a crime unless the prosecution established a financial gain.
Mr Zafarullah informed the court that NAB had secured a seven-day remand of his client, but Mr Iqbal was interrogated only once by NAB during that period.
Nevertheless, the court, on the prosecution’s request, extended the physical remand of Mr Iqbal for another week and adjourned the proceedings.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2020