ISLAMABAD: The Accountability Court of Islamabad on Tuesday rejected former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s application seeking summoning of Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed as a witness in the LNG terminal reference.
Accountability judge Azam Khan held that it was sole prerogative of the prosecution to plan the calendar of witnesses and seek permission for recording of statement of any witness at any point of time according to their strategy.
The Supreme Court had in February 2018 rejected a petition of Sheikh Rashid, seeking disqualification of then prime minister Abbasi for alleged corruption in the award of an LNG import contract, and asked him to approach the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in this regard.
Subsequently, NAB had launched an inquiry against Mr Abbasi, Miftah Ismail and others in this matter and filed a reference in the accountability court.
Abbasi sought summoning of Sheikh Rashid as witness in LNG terminal case
Barrister Zafarullah Khan, the counsel for Mr Abbasi, had filed the application for summoning Sheikh Rashid as a witness. He argued that since the reference was based on the complaint of Sheikh Rashid and he was also the star witness, his testimony might be recorded at the earliest.
During the court proceedings, Mr Khan cross-examined prosecution witness Hassan Bhatti.
Later, talking to the media outside the courtroom, Mr Abbasi said the Broadsheet saga involved “several hidden faces”, but questions were being raised about Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders only.
He demanded that the documents related to the Broadsheet saga be placed before the nation and the names be disclosed of those people who had met Kaveh Moussavi, the chief executive officer of Broadsheet.
“The track record of NAB is full of corruption and the Broadsheet saga is only a fraction of its corrupt practices,” Mr Abbasi alleged. He said NAB references were nothing but a pack of lies.
He said the Broadsheet dispute had been lingering on for two decades and was yet to be decided, but the LNG terminal case was initiated two-and-a-half years ago and he had appeared before the accountability court about 70 times.
The former premier said that certain quarters were trying to create the impression as if only politicians were corrupt and insisted that same criteria should be applied to “weigh judges, generals and bureaucrats”.
Under such benchmark, he said, at least three chairmen of NAB might land in jail and retd Gen Pervez Musharraf should also face action.
Replying to a question, he said the opposition parties would express solidarity with the people of India-held Kashmir on Feb 5 by staging a rally in Muzaffarabad.
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021