KARACHI: An accountability court has issued non-bailable warrants for former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s arrest in a fresh reference pertaining to alleged illegal appointment of managing director and deputy managing director of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO).

The National Accounta­bility Bureau (NAB) filed the reference against Pak­istan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Abbasi and former petroleum secretary Arshad Mirza for allegedly appointing Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar as deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations.

Admitting the reference, Farid Anwar Kazi, administrative judge of accountability courts, issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Mr Abbasi and Mr Mirza. The judge directed the NAB investigation officer to arrest and produce them before it on April 10. The court also summoned Mr Haq and Mr Sattar, who had already obtained pre-arrest bail, on the next date of hearing.

The NAB investigation officer was also directed to provide copies of the documentary evidence to all the suspects, under Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code, within seven days.

On Thursday, investigation officer Adnan Hafeez Abbasi had filed the reference through special public prosecutor Shahbaz Saho­tra, who submitted that there were around 50 prosecution witnesses and five volumes containing documentary evidence against the four nominated suspects.

It was alleged in the reference that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Arshad Mirza had misused their authority while appointing Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar as deputy managing director (finance) of PSO in violation of rules and regulations. It added that the Supreme Court had, while hearing a case on July 14, 2018, ordered the anti-graft watchdog to probe the appointment of both the officers.

Later, an inquiry report was submitted to the Supreme Court. It reportedly said evidence showed that the appointment of Sheikh Imranul Haq was illegal and not made in a transparent manner. The report said there was evidence that Mr Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to an

LNG agreement with his ex-employer (Engro Corporation). It accused Mr Haq of having misused his authority by promoting Mr Sattar to the post of deputy managing director within a month of his joining.

In the reference, NAB alleged that the suspects caused losses to the tune of Rs138.96 million to the national exchequer. Therefore, they allegedly committed offences punishable in terms of Sections 9(a), (4), (6) and (12) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, it added.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2020