ISLAMABAD: An accountability court on Tuesday reserved decision on applications seeking acquittal of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others in the re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) reference.

Accountability Judge Nasir Javed Rana reserved the decision after the counsel for the accused concluded arguments.

Mr Abbasi, ex-finance minister Miftah Ismail, former managing director Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Sheikh Imranul Haq, ex-Ogra chairpersons Saeed Ahmed Khan and Uzma Adil Khan, Engro Group chairman Hussain Dawood, former chairman PQA Agha Jan Akhtar, ex-member Ogra Aamir Naseem, former managing director PSO Shahid M. Islam and PSO official Abdul Sammad have been nominated in the reference.

The reference filed by NAB stated that one LNG company had received benefits of over Rs21 billion because of the contract. The reference said the national exchequer would suffer Rs47bn loss by 2029 if the contract in question continued. Mr Abbasi has termed these charges “defective”.

The NAB prosecutor argued that since the amendment to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) had ousted the jurisdiction of NAB from such matters, the court may issue an appropriate order only. He however opposed the requests for acquitting of the accused.

Addressing the court, Mr Abbasi said the reference was filed as a political victimisation. He said not a single witness brought an iota of evidence against him and he was dragged into the case four years ago.

Talking to reporters outside the courtroom, Mr Abbasi said he had presented the record of the last 35 years.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2023

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