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NAB arrests PML-N senior vice-president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in LNG case

NAB arrests PML-N senior vice-president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in LNG case
July 18, 2019
LAHORE (92 News) – The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday arrested PML-N vice-president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from the Toll Plaza near Thokar Niaz Baig in LNG case. Later, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was shifted to the NAB Rawalpindi after being arrested.

A medical board conducted his medical examination. He was allowed to use clothes and other essential items. He will be presented in an accountability court for his physical remand. Khaqan Abbasi was travelling to Lahore with Ahsan Iqbal when he was arrested. The NAB had already summoned Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, but he was going to Lahore to participate in a press conference to be held by Shehbaz Sharif. According to the NAB arrest warrant, Abbasi is accused of commission of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices under section 9 (a) of National Accountability Ordinance, 1999. PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal also harshly condemned the arrest of Khaqan Abbasi and declared the day as black in history of Pakistan. PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif condemned the arrest, stating that NAB was being used for political victimisation. “Another prime minister appointed by your votes arrested. Will this injustice, insult be faced by those elected by your votes,” wrote Maryam Nawaz Sharif on her Twitter account. Earlier, the former premier skipped appearance before the NAB in the LNG scam. According to the details garnered, the NAB had summoned Khaqan Abbasi the LNG scandal today at 10am. According to the sources, he informed the anti-graft watchdog body that he could not appear due to his personal busy routine. The inquiry against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was conducted directly under the supervision of the NAB chairman. On Jan 2, the NAB Executive Board had authorized two investigations against Mr Abbasi, being former minister for petroleum and natural resources — one for his alleged involvement in irregularities in LNG import and the other related to the appointment of Naeemuddin Khan as president of the Bank of Punjab. The former prime minister had said several times in the recent past that he had not committed any illegality in the award of contracts for LNG import and, therefore, he could prove his innocence at any forum. He was of the view that the import of LNG was the need of the hour in 2013 when the country was facing an acute shortage of gas. In the case, not only Abbasi but former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was also accused of misusing authority by awarding the contract of LNG terminal to 15 companies of their choice. It is the first NAB case against Abbasi, who had served as prime minister for almost a year after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2017. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had raised the issue at different forums, including parliament, but not moved NAB in this regard. Interestingly during the previous PML-N government, the Karachi NAB in its regional board meeting had closed the inquiry against Khaqan Abbasi in December 2016. But the PTI opposed the decision and claimed that ‘the inquiry was stopped despite the fact that it had been proved that the contract had been awarded in a non-transparent manner’. The then Karachi NAB director general had remarked in a meeting: “After exhaustive discussion it has been decided that it is an ongoing project and any intervention by NAB at this juncture will jeopardise the efforts of provision of LNG from the project of public/national importance. It is, therefore, decided [to close the] inquiry [at] our end.” However, the NAB inquiry had revealed that the management of Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) selected M/s Engro as a successful bidder for LNG terminal at Karachi Port in a non-transparent manner. The NAB inquiry found that the SSGCL signed a 15-year contract with a subsidiary company of Engro for re-gasification of LNG at fixed daily processing charges. The government authorized the Pakistan State Oil to procure LNG on behalf of the SSGCL. At the time of closure of the inquiry, incumbent Finance Minster Asad Umar had said: “NAB closed down inquiry against Khaqan Abbasi, though it was confirmed that irregularities had been committed in the award of the LNG contract.” However, the NAB reopened the inquiry against Abbasi in October 2018.