Pakistan interim PM-designate faces NAB inquiry over LNG contract

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Islamabad, July 31 (IANS) The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) nominee for the post of interim Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, is facing a Rs 220 billion corruption inquiry by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract.

Abbasi, the former Petroleum Minister, is a principal accused in a NAB case registered in 2015, Dawn newspaper reported.

The other suspects in the case are former Petroleum Secretary Abid Saeed, Inter State Gas Systems (ISGS) Managing Director Mobin Saulut, private firm Engro’s Chief Executive officer Emranul Haq and the Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) ex-MD Zuhair Ahmed Siddiqui.

According to NAB documents, the contract for the LNG import and distribution was awarded to the Elengy Terminal, a subsidiary of Engro, in 2013 in violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and relevant laws.

The case was registered on the complaint of Shahid Sattar, an energy expert and former member of the Planning Commission and the SSGC board of directors.

It is still under an investigation contrary to NAB Chairman Qamar Zaman Chaudhry’s claim that he had introduced a new strategy under which the process of complaint verification, inquiry, investigation and filing of reference took 10 months, said the newspaper.

Sattar had accused Abbasi of misusing his authority and causing a potential $2 billion loss to the national exchequer in 15 years. The NAB documents said that it had been recommended that the names of all accused in the case, including Abbasi, should be placed on the Exit Control List.

After the removal of Nawaz Sharif by the apex court in the Panama Papers corruption case, the PML-N has nominated Abbasi as its candidate for the Prime Minister’s post for an interim period before Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif replaces him for the remaining 10 months of the government’s term.

The election of the new Prime Minister will be held on Tuesday and Abbasi is set to be elected in view of his party’s comprehensive majority in the National Assembly, said the report.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, Abbasi said he was not afraid of any reference, adding that those levelling allegations against him should search their own souls and be ashamed of their deeds.

“Not only one case but get registered 10 references against me,” he said in reply to a question about Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s decision to approach the Supreme Court against him regarding the NAB proceedings.

–IANS

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