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Friday September 22, 2023

No political party can be banned, says Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

By Our Correspondent & News Desk
May 31, 2023

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has ruled out the possibility of a ban on any political party, as the government mulls over banning the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the wake of violent protests that took place on May 9. “No one can put an end to any party,” he said while speaking to the media after a hearing at an accountability court in Karachi on Tuesday. Khan’s arrest in the £190 million settlement case triggered countrywide riots and incidents of violence that continued for three days. Keeping in view the party’s aggressive approach, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had said there was no other option but to impose a ban on the PTI.

“It’s important to have a stance against armed groups. There is no other option but to impose a ban on this party [PTI],” Sana had said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. On Tuesday, Khaqan said that the court announced the verdict on the plea for not holding the trial in an accountability court. Earlier, the court while announcing the verdict, sent the reference against Abbasi back to NAB linked with the illegal appointments in Pakistan State Oil (PSO).

Khaqan criticised those behind filing the reference saying that the case only wasted their and the institutions' time.

Returned to NAB An accountability court returned a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau against Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former petroleum secretary Arshad Mirza and two others to the corruption watchdog due to lack of jurisdiction in the wake of amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO).

NAB had in March 2020 filed the reference against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz stalwart and ex-petroleum secretary over alleged misuse of their powers in appointments of Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar as deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of the relevant rules and regulations.

Haq and Sattar, who had also been nominated in the case, moved applications before Accountability Court-II Judge Aalia Latif Unar, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try them after the amendments made to the NAB law.

The judge pronounced her verdict reserved after hearing arguments from both defence and prosecution sides. She observed that the case did not fall within the ambit of this court because the amount involved was less than Rs500 million. She ordered the reference to be returned to the bureau to file it before the relevant forum according to the law.

The defence lawyers contended that the alleged offence of misuse of authority did not come within the purview of NAB after the new amendments. They said the loss allegedly caused to the exchequer was below Rs500 million, due to which the anti-graft watchdog had lost its jurisdiction to prosecute the case while the court to conduct trial of their clients.

According to NAB prosecutor RD Kalhoro, Abbasi, during his stint as minister for petroleum and natural resources, and the then petroleum secretary had allegedly misused their authority in appointments of the MD and the deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO. He claimed that the accused persons caused losses to the tune of over Rs138 million to the national exchequer.

The inquiry into the case was conducted on the Supreme Court’s order of July 14, 2018. The probe found that Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to a liquified natural gas import agreement with his previous employer Engro Corporation of which he served as the senior vice president, according to NAB. He also promoted Sattar to the post of deputy managing director (finance) out of the way and within a month of his joining.