ISLAMABAD - Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on Monday, moved a petition before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking protective bail in a reference of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against him for making illegal appointments. The leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) approached the court through his counsel Barrister Zafarullah Khan and requested the court to grant him protective bail so that the petitioner could approach the NAB court in Karachi for appropriate relief when the nation-wide Covid-19 lockdown was lifted.

 On March 31, the IHC had granted four-week protective bail to former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former secretary petroleum Arshad Mirza in a reference pertaining to the illegal appointment of managing director Pakistan State Oil (PSO). In his plea, Abbasi stated that the NAB Karachi had issued arrest warrants for him, while he was in Islamabad and could not appear before the accountability court, Karachi, due to lockdown. The Accountability Court, Karachi had issued non-bailable warrants for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan in a reference pertaining to illegal appointment of managing director PSO.

The anti-graft watchdog filed second reference against the PML-N leader in the illegal appointment of Imran-ul-Haq as PSO managing director in a Karachi accountability court. In the reference, the anti-graft watchdog had alleged that Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Arshad Mirza had misused their authority while appointing Sheikh Imranul Haq as managing director and Yaqoob Sattar deputy managing director (finance) of the PSO in violation of rules and regulations.

It added that the Supreme Court had, while hearing a case on July 14, 2018, ordered the anti-graft watchdog to probe the appointment of both the officers and an inquiry report was submitted to the Supreme Court. The inquiry report said that the evidence showed the appointment of Sheikh Imranul Haq was illegal and was not made in a transparent manner. The report said that there was evidence that Haq had a conflict of interest with the PSO due to an LNG agreement with his former employer (Engro Corporation).

The reference accused Haq of having misused his authority by promoting Sattar to the post of deputy managing director within a month of his joining.

In the reference, NAB claimed that the suspects caused losses to the tune of Rs138.96 million to the national exchequer. Therefore, they allegedly committed offences punishable under Sections 9(a), (4), (6) and (12) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999, it added.