PESHAWAR - Peshawar High Court (PHC) yesterday restrained Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission from arresting ANP's Senator Sitara Ayaz for allegedly misusing her position during her tenure as a provincial minister in the last government led by her party, the ANP.

A two-member bench comprising of Justice Irshad Qaiser and Justice Syed Afsar Shah stopped the arrest warrants of Senator Sitara Ayaz till October 28 next date for hearing.

The bench has taken up the petition filed by Sitara Ayaz in which she requested the court to nullify the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission proceedings against her.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission had issued warrants for the arrest of Senator Sitara Ayaz, former provincial minister for social welfare for allegedly misusing her position during her tenure as a provincial minister during ANP's government.

However, Sitara Ayaz claimed in the petition that some officials of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission had been trying to settle personal scores with her.

The bench also issued notice to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa directing them to submit written replies before next hearing of the case.

Senator Sitara Ayaz filed writ petition in the provincial high court against her arrest by the Ehtesab Commission through her lawyers Abdul Latif Afridi and Barrister Mudasir Ameer.

During the course of hearing, the lawyers submitted that the petitioner knew through media reports regarding her arrest, as she did not receive arrest warrant in writing.

They submitted that as per the commission's statement the petitioner allegedly misused her position as provincial minister and was involved in misappropriation of funds.

Furthermore, they submitted that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had already initiated inquiry against the petitioner.

They said that now in 2015 the Ehtesab Commission initiated inquiry into the matter, which is illegal and without jurisdiction.

They also pointed out that there was no female investigation officer with the Ehtesab Commission to interrogate the petitioner.

On the court's query, the Ehtesab Commission's senior prosecutor Lajbar Khan who was present in another case informed the bench that the commission initiated a different case against Senator Sitara Ayaz.

He submitted that the commission's inquiry was much different from that initiated by the NAB.

He said that the commission has initiated inquiry against the petitioner regarding misuse of powers and embezzlement in funds allocated for social welfare department.

It is to be mentioned here that the arrest warrant for Ayaz has been issued by the Director General Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission Lt-Gen (r) Mohammad Hamid Khan.

The warrants said: "Whereas Sitara Ayaz, being a public officeholder as a minister for social welfare women empowerment and special education KP, involved in the offences of corruption and corrupt practice as defined under section publishable of the Ehtesab Commission Act 2014 by misusing her authority and thereby caused huge loss to the government exchequer.

"I, therefore, in exercise of power conferred upon me under the Act, direct to arrest her."

Senator Sitara Ayaz would be the first woman and the first ANP leader if arrested by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission.

The Commission has so far arrested PTI MPA and ex-Provincial Minister Ziaullah Afridi, and ex-Provincial Minister Liaqat Shabab, who was also PPP's provincial information secretary.

ANP TERMS KPEC IMRAN'S

COMMISSION

Awami National Party (ANP) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa expressed anger over the arrest warrant issued against ANP Senator Sitara Ayaz by KP Ehtisab Commission.

They termed it Imran and Pervez commission for political victimization of rival political parties.

"The Ehtisab Commission head who has become a hooligan and he should sense the gravity of situation and should stop teasing ANP leaders, otherwise he will bear the brunt," said Sardar Hussain Babak ANP provincial General Secretary said this while addressing a news conference along-with ANP Senator Sitara Ayaz here at press club on Tuesday.

Senator Sitara Ayaz was a provincial minister for Social Welfare and Women development in the previous ANP led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, expressed her reservations on the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission (KPEC).

She said that KPEC was not an accountability body but an 'Imran's and Pervez's Commission.

"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf was using this body to dishonour officials and political rivals in the province, she said, adding she was not the only one who blamed PTI for using this tool to press opponents, as PTI's own minister Ziaullah Afridi had also alleged the chief minister of using the very same tactic.

Senator Sitara Ayaz also said that she is not afraid of accountability but accountability process should be open and fair.

While recent action of the KPEC was more of revenge than legal action in her case.

She said that she was specifically targeted by the KPEC but she would not run away and will face the accountability. Only problem was that she did not trust this body and had reservations on it.

"My reservations on KPEC are very much similar to Imran Khan's reservation on Election Commission of Pakistan", said Senator Sitara Ayaz.

She said that she did not understand what kind of accountability body would issue arrest warrants without first showing any proof to the alleged person.

She said that she was alleged of corruption worth One billion rupees but the total budget of her former social welfare and women development department was only Rs 1.29 billions only.

"How could one misappropriate such a huge chunk of the total budget", she said.

ANP Senator Sitara Ayaz said that almost a month back ANP provincial president had expressed his reservations on KPEC and had alleged that it was being used by the PTI government as a tool to pressurize and dishonour political rivals.

He was right to doubt, said Senator Sitara Ayaz.

Sardar Babak also said, "ANP didn't surrender before the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, so how it will surrender before Taliban's sub organization (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf). We will face the accountability boldly," he said.

Later on ANP activists also chanted slogans against the PTI government and chief minister.