ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Wednesday approved a second reference against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, including him in the list of six prime ministers who have been in office since the bureau’s inception in 1999 and faced two or more references.
Interestingly, the new reference was approved by the NAB executive board on the day Mr Abbasi spoke for the first time on the floor of the National Assembly after his detention in the LNG terminal reference.
A meeting of the executive board, presided over by NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal, approved the filing of reference against Mr Abbasi for alleged misuse of authority and illegal appointment of former managing director and deputy managing director of the Pakistan State Oil and others in violation of rules and regulations, causing a loss of Rs138.96 million to the exchequer.
Mr Abbasi had made these appointments when he was minister for petroleum and natural resources.
Before Mr Abbasi, five other former prime ministers were facing two or more NAB references — Shaukat Aziz, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Yousuf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervez Ashraf and Nawaz Sharif. Zafarullah Khan Jamali was the only prime minister who did not face any NAB case.
Meanwhile, NAB submitted to the Islamabad High Court written replies to the post-arrest bail petitions filed by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.
The anti-graft watchdog claimed that being minister for water and power, Mr Abbasi was responsible for “making all decisions relating to oil, gas and minerals at the national and international levels, including policy, etc, regarding import of LNG and establishment of LNG terminal.” According to the NAP reply, Mr Abbasi was involved in the “award of LNG Terminal-I to M/s EETPL at Port Qasim, Karachi, at exorbitant rates”.
About Ahsan Iqbal, the NAB reply alleged that being deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and chairman of the Central Development Working Party, he had misused his authority and illegally increased the scope of the Narowal Sports City project, formally named as Sports Stadium Complex, from Rs35.4m to Rs97.5m. “The accused, with mala fide intentions, instead of getting approval from the CDWP accorded approval of his own by bypassing the CDWP and directed officers/officials of the ministry to include Narowal Sports City project in the Public Sector Development Programme 2013-14,” it added.
The NAB executive board also authorised conducting of seven inquiries against different accused persons, including former federal minister Barjees Tahir and others. The meeting approved the filing a reference against Ghulam Ali Shah Pasha, former senior member of the Sindh Board of Revenue; Abdul Subhan Memon, former land utilisation secretary; Muhammad Salik, former district revenue officer, Hyderabad; Gadda Hussain Abro, former Mukhtiarkar, revenue; Imtiaz Solangi, former supervising Tapedar; and Qadir Bakhsh and Muhammad Saleem over allegations of illegal allotment of government land, causing a loss of Rs120m to the national exchequer.
The NAB board also approved the filing of a reference against Ghulam Mustafa Phal and Abdul Subhan, former secretaries of land utilisation, Sindh; Qazi Jan Mohammad, former Malir DC; Ghulam Haider Chandio, former assistant commissioner; Mohammad Arif Kalvar, Assistant Commissioner, Bin Qasim Town, Malir; and Tufail Ahmed, Zulfikar Ali Mangi and Mohammad Ayub. They are accused of allotting state land illegally, causing a loss of Rs40m to the national exchequer.
The meeting approved investigations against Sindh chief minister’s former special assistant Pehlaj Mal, owners of Altamash Medical Society and officers of the Sindh Building Control Authority.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2020