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Ensure participation of under-custody parliamentarian in sessions: Shahid Khaqan

13 September, 2019

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Former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday urged National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar to make sure participation of every under-custody parliamentarian in the sessions.

In an open letter to the speaker, the ex-petroleum minister said that he has always stressed on timely issuance of production orders of the arrested MNAs however, nothing has been done in this regard so far. The speaker’s office has failed to ensure attendance of all the parliamentarians in the sessions, the letter stated.

Abbasi further demanded to indiscriminately issue production orders of all the detained members so that they could also attend the assembly meetings.

On July 18, 2019, the anti-corruption watchdog had arrested Shahid Khaqan Abbasi near Thokar Niaz Baig toll plaza in connection with an ongoing investigation into the ‘illegal’ award of the LNG contract with Qatar.

Meanwhile, an accountability court on Thursday gave the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a final extension in Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Miftah Ismail’s physical remand.

The PML-N leaders are accused of being involved in awarding a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal against the rules when Abbasi was petroleum minister in the cabinet of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The case was closed by NAB in 2016, but reopened in 2018.

Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir, who heard NAB’s pleas for extension in physical remand of Abbasi, Ismail and former Pakistan State Oil (PSO) managing director Sheikh Imranul Haq, said that Abbasi had been in NAB custody for 56 days and “this is the final extension the court is giving in his remand”.

Earlier in the hearing, while NAB argued that an extension in the remand was vital, Abbasi’s lawyer said that the court should fix two days every week for them to meet their client as NAB was refusing to let them do so.

Former premier Abbasi, on the other hand, told the court to give a “90-day extension in the remand to satisfy NAB”. He also put speculations to rest by saying that no deal is being made with NAB.

Meanwhile, Ismail’s lawyer said that his client was being “kept in isolation for 23 hours every day and should at least be allowed to have his meals with Abbasi”. The lawyer further said that Ismail had been in custody for 11 days already and a 14-day extension should not be made in his physical remand.

NAB lawyers argued that the two men had to be kept in custody for interrogation.

Hearing both sides of the argument, the judge allowed NAB to keep both Abbasi and Ismail in custody till September 26, but clarified that a further extension in their physical remand would not be given.

Haq’s remand was also further extended after NAB told the court that his physical checkup had been completed and that he had been tested for diabetes. The court was told that Haq’s insulin levels were within normal ranges.

On Wednesday, NAB Karachi had recommended that another reference be opened against Abbasi for allegedly violating rules and procedures set by the federal government in Haq’s appointment.

According to a statement issued by NAB, Abbasi had appointed Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director of PSO by allegedly violating rules and procedures laid down for appointments of chief executive officers in public sector enterprises. An investigation, the statement said, “revealed” that Haq was appointed as MD PSO on the basis of having “personal affiliation” with the minister.

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