A two-member bench of the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday granted bails to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Ahsan Iqbal in separate cases. Abbasi was granted bail in the Liquified Natural Gas case while Iqbal was granted bail in the Narowal Sports City corruption case.
The court directed that Abbasi and Iqbal be released after submission of surety bonds of Rs10 million each. In its written orders, the court said that the investigation officer may “impose such conditions as he deems appropriate” to secure cooperation and presence of the petitioners during their respective inquiries.
The hearings were presided over by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez. Chief Justice Minallah, during the hearing of the former premier’s bail petition in the LNG corruption case, remarked that the government took a grant from another country (United States) for help, and the country itself hired a firm.
“Public funds were not used for the project; USAID funds were used instead … Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules are not applicable in this case.” He questioned the National Accountability Bureau prosecutor about whether the foreign ministry had been asked about USAID.The prosecutor informed the court that the watchdog was acquiring records from the ministry. He further said that Abbasi had purchased LNG at expensive rates. The chief justice then questioned the prosecutor whether NAB had researched if any company could be given the terminal’s contract at cheaper rates.
Referring to a letter submitted by the anti-graft watchdog, Justice Minallah remarked that NAB cannot mention a company providing services at a cheaper rate if it did not participate in the bidding.
The investigation officer also read out a statement from Abid Saeed, former secretary of petroleum, which stated that he had prepared the summary on Abbasi’s instructions for awarding the contract. At this, the chief justice remarked that NAB had forgiven the former secretary after taking his statement on a summary from five years ago. The chief justice also told the IO that “these are your powers which we are talking about.” Abbasi has been in jail for over 200 days. He was arrested by NAB in connection with an inquiry into the LNG terminal contract.