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LNG reference: Arrest warrants for Abbasi and others issued

In connection with the liquefied natural gas (LNG) reference, an accountability court in Islamabad on Tuesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and others.

The ex-prime minister failed to show up in accountability court today, so Judge Nasir Javed Rana issued the orders.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) nominated Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, former managing director Pakistan State Oil (PSO) Sheikh Imranul Haq, ex-Ogra chairpersons Saeed Ahmed Khan and Uzma Adil Khan, chairman of Engro Group Hussain Dawood, former chairman of PQA Agha Jan Akhtar, ex-member of Ogra Aamir Naseem, former managing director PSO Shahid M.

According to the reference, one LNG company profited more than Rs21 billion as a result of the contract. According to the reference, if the contract in question was to continue, the national exchequer would incur a loss of Rs47 billion by 2029. These accusations are deemed “defective” by Abbasi.

In the prior hearing, the NAB prosecutor stated that since the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) amendment had eliminated the NAB’s authority over such matters, the court could issue the necessary order. As a result, the court reserved its decision regarding the acquittal pleas of Abbasi and the other individuals named in the case.

But he had objected to the plea for an acquittal.

For failing to appear in court and for not requesting an exemption for attendance, the judge issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Abbasi and co-accused Uzma Adil at the hearing today.

It also postponed the hearing to March 14 and directed the accused’s attorneys to present their cases during the subsequent procedures.

The Case

In the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) import contract case, NAB filed a reference in 2019 against 10 defendants, including Abbasi, former finance minister Miftah Ismail, and former managing director of Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Sheikh Imranul Haq.

In an accountability court in Islamabad, the accountability bureau filed the reference. Between March 2015 and September 2019, one company allegedly received advantages totaling more than Rs21 billion.

In conjunction with the investigation, Abbasi was detained in July 2019. When he served as the petroleum minister in the government of the previous prime leader Nawaz Sharif, he was charged with breaking the law by issuing a 15-year contract for a terminal. NAB closed the case in 2016, however, it was revived in 2018.

Afterward, the executive board of NAB authorized investigations against Abbasi, a former minister of petroleum and natural resources, for his alleged involvement in fraud in the importation of LNG.

Abbasi has asserted numerous times that he did not break any laws when contracts for LNG imports were awarded and that he could thus demonstrate his innocence in any court. In 2013, while the nation was experiencing a severe gas crisis, he argued the argument that importing LNG was necessary.

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