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February 13, 2018

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LNG case: SC rejects Rasheed’s petition against PM

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a petition of the Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for alleged corruption in the award of an LNG import contract.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the petition. After hearing the arguments of Latif Khosa, counsel for Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, the court dismissed the petition with the observation that the matter did not fall under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

The court asked the counsel for the petitioner to approach the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for the instant matter. The court questioned as to how the premier could be deemed not truthful and honest as per Article 62 of the Constitution. The chief justice said the court did not want to repeat the history of cases of Reko Diq, Karakey as well as Pakistan Steel Mills, adding that the petitioner should know what those decisions cost Pakistan in the eyes of the world.

Sheikh Rashid had filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution making Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others as respondents. He had prayed the apex court to disqualify Shahid Khaqan Abbasi under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution for plundering money by virtue of the impugned contracts and issue directions for recovery of ill-gotten assets.

The AML chief had further prayed the apex court to direct the NAB chairman to discharge his obligation under Section 18 read with Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and complete the investigation report.

Sheikh Rashid had accused Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of corruption in the LNG contract awarded in 2015 as minister for petroleum and natural resources. He prayed that the impugned contracts having been awarded and executed by way of concealment of facts, misrepresentation, concealment of facts, abuse of authority and negation of Pepra Ordinance and LNG rules be declared as illegal, unlawful, ultra vires and ineffective in the eyes of law.

He had further prayed the court to appoint an honest and impartial person as chairman of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) to look after the affairs of the institution so that the incumbent prime minister and his predecessor Nawaz Sharif may not intervene in its affairs.

He had alleged that in 2013 the PML-N government launched the LNG project and then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in league with then petroleum minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi decided to handle the import and transmission of LNG at Port Qasim through their blue-eyed persons.

For this purpose, Sheikh Rashid contended that a terminal on rental basis was illegally arranged and Nawaz Sharif’s business friend Hussain Dawood was selected since he owned a terminal in the chemical zone of Port Qasim.

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