IHC questions circumstances under which Ahsan was arrested

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Observer Report

Islamabad

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday questioned circumstances under which the National Accountability Bureau chairman issued arrest warrants for former planning minister Ahsan Iqbal.
A two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez resumed hearing of Iqbal’s post-arrest bail plea and deliberated over violation of an accused’s fundamental rights.
When Additional Prosecutor NAB Jahanzaib Bharwana informed the bench that the inquiry against Iqbal was in the preliminary stage, Justice Minallah asked what extraordinary circumstances compelled the bureau chairman to issue arrest warrants.
“Was the suspect trying to escape?” he asked and directed NAB prosecutor to satisfy court on why Iqbal couldn’t be probed without being detained. The judge remarked that every suspect was innocent until proven guilty. “Is the investigation officer incapable of proving white-collar crimes without making an arrest?” he questioned.
Bharwana said the anti-graft watchdog was apprehensive Iqbal would tamper records and witness statements. The IO suspected Iqbal would use his influence as he did in 2009 but the IHC chief justice observed that the PML-N leader was no longer a minister.
Meanwhile, hearing a post-arrest bail plea filed by former PM Shahid Khan Abbasi, the IHC gave NAB a week to confirm whether the incumbent government is using the same terms and conditions applied by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for the LNG deal.
The two-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Lubna Saleem Pervez asked the anti-graft watchdog investigating officer if the ruling party’s LNG deal was based on conditions similar to those set by Abbasi.
During the hearing, Abbasi’s counsel lamented his client’s situation in jail. To which, Justice Minallah inquired why the ex-PM was in a death cell. “He is imprisoned in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi,” replied NAB additional prosecutor Jahanzeib Bharwana. “He is not under our custody.”