In another setback for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the top accountability watchdog has approved further inquiries against its top leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi – both former premiers – and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif for alleged ‘misuse of authority’.
Sharif, Abbasi and others have been accused of illegally awarding liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal contract for a period of 15-year to a company of their liking in violation of defined rules, ‘thus inflicting billions of rupees losses to national kitty’.
A separate inquiry has been ordered against former CM Shehbaz and others in a case related to Ramzan Sugar Mills that are located Chiniot. These inquiries have been ordered by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Executive Board meeting held on Wednesday.
The inquiry into the LNG contract case has been initiated almost one-and-a-half year after the NAB Karachi office closed a similar inquiry against Abbasi for his alleged role in the award of a multi-billion rupee contract for the import and distribution of LNG.
The PML-N government in its tenure from 2013-2018 completed two LNG terminals, while just days before completion of its term, on May 31, it stopped the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) from going ahead with bidding for the allocation of a site for constructing a third terminal.
However, NAB did not identify whether the fresh inquiry is related to the first or the second LNG terminal. Nawaz Sharif and his family members are already facing three NAB references that were filed in line with the apex court’s July 28, 2017 verdict in Panama Papers case. Sharif’s brother and the PML-N incumbent chief Shehbaz is also facing NAB cases with regard to two separate projects.
The executive board also approved an inquiry against former Sindh former CM Qaim Ali Shah and officers of Sindh Tourism Department for awarding contracts for the Sindh Cultural Festival 2014 to favourite parties against the rules.
The practice, according to NAB statement, caused a Rs127 million loss to the national exchequer.
NAB also approved an inquiry against the management of the Paragon Housing Society, a project part-owned by former Railways minister Saad Rafique, for allegedly cheating people and making suspicious banking transactions.
It also ordered an inquiry against former Balochistan minister Shaikh Jaffar Khan and Water Management deputy director Abdul Latif Khan for allegedly having assets beyond known means of income and misuse of authority.
Inquiries and investigations were also authorised against former provincial forest minister Obaidullah Babat, a former Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly speaker, deputy speaker and secretary, officials of Eden Housing Society, Sindh Land Utilisation Department, Pakistan State Oil, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organisation and the Khairpur Division Irrigation Department.
NAB also approved filing a supplementary reference against former Bahauddin Zakria University vice-chancellor Prof Dr Syed Khawaja. He has been accused of opening the university’s illegal sub-campus in Lahore and illegally receiving millions of rupees as fee from students.
NAB Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal directed NAB officers to complete inquiries against the accused within defined time period without any fear or favour. NAB also clarified that it undertakes complaint verifications on the basis of allegations.
“NAB would check the veracity of alleged allegations as per law before initiating converting into inquiry proceedings,” said the statement issued by the graft-buster.