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Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf waves upon his arrival at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on September 18, 2012. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau says it has informed the Supreme Court that the interior ministry is reluctant to put the name of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on the exit control list (ECL) despite the court’s directives in the rental power projects (RPPs) case.

“We have informed the Supreme Court about non-cooperation of the interior ministry in the case,” NAB’s spokesman Zafar Iqbal told Dawn on Sunday.

Similarly, NAB recently sent a reminder to the interior ministry asking it to put the name of the prime minister and former finance minister Shaukat Tarin on the ECL in the Rs22 billion RPP scam case. Otherwise, it warned, the ministry would be responsible if they escaped abroad.

Mr Tarin had pleaded his innocence in the media and told Dawn that he was the first person to oppose the RPPs and on his recommendation the Asian Development Bank had conducted an audit of the projects.

The NAB had on June 28 recommended 36 names, but after a long delay the interior ministry put the names of 34 people on the ECL on Nov 8, sparing Prime Minister Ashraf and Shaukat Tarin.

The NAB spokesman said the bureau had written another letter to the interior ministry after receiving its reply that it had placed the names of 34 people on the ECL. Asked how the name of an incumbent prime minister could be put on the ECL, he said the NAB ordinance empowered the bureau to recommend the name of even sitting prime minister for the ECL.

“Under the ordinance, only the incumbent president and governors are exempted from NAB’s action, but not the sitting prime minister,” the spokesman said.

The NAB considers Prime Minister Ashraf as one of the main accused in the RPP scam and has sent three reminders to the interior ministry to put his name on the ECL.

On the directives of the Supreme Court, NAB had on June 28 sent to the interior ministry names of 36 persons to be put on the ECL, including that of the prime minister and some former federal ministers and secretaries, former heads of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority and National Electric Power Regulatory Authority and chief executive officers of a number of power companies.

Before assuming the charge of his office, Prime Minister Ashraf had already recorded his statement before NAB in the RPP scam case.

The Supreme Court had in April rescinded the RPPs and ordered NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari to proceed with corruption references against those who were at the helm of affairs when the contracts were signed between 2006 and 2008 to overcome the energy shortfall as a stopgap arrangement.

In his statement, the prime minister had reiterated his previous stance that he had done nothing wrong in the award of RPP contacts.

In the case, nine firms have been accused of receiving more than Rs22 billion as mobilisation advance from the government to commission the projects, but most of them did not set up their plants. Only a few installed the plants, but with an inordinate delay.